Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins

I’m a bit of a grammar snob—“Don’t say ain’t or your mother will faint” can definitely be applied to me. So when I started reading Ace Atkin's new mystery The Lost Ones I nearly put it right back down. There are ‘ain’t’s everywhere, and not only within the dialogue!

BUT—I’m really glad I stuck with it.

The Lost Ones tells the story of Quinn Colson, a small-town Texas sheriff not too long back from 10 years as an Army Ranger. (It’s the second book—the first one is The Ranger. Read them in order if you can, but I stumbled on The Lost Ones by accident, not knowing it was #2, and it stood up fine.)

Colson lives and works in the same small town where he grew up, helping his mother raise his no-good sister’s kid and trying to keep a corrupt town councilman from running roughshod over the populace. It seems like plenty to deal with just as it is, but then things get more complicated. The no-good sister comes home, three weeks sober and asking for her umpteenth chance. Not only does she want back into to her little boy’s life, she wants to talk about the past, a dark place Colson isn’t willing to visit. On the sheriffing side, a child who was brought to the emergency room after ‘falling out of a grocery cart’ dies, prompting a heartbreaking investigation that ultimately riles up a Mexican drug syndicate and brings in the Feds.

Colson’s loyalty to family, to friends, to fellow soldiers, and to the law are all tested in the course of the book. The Lost Ones is a strong, well-written story, evoking small-town Texas and characters whose voices will stay you. They surely stayed with me. By the end, a little bit of Texas slang even started sneaking into my speech, but trust me, it ain’t gonna last.

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