The Lost Ones
Author: Ace Atkins
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Date of Publication: December 4, 2012
Pages: 368 (Trade Paperback Edition)
Ace Atkins is a former Pulitzer Prize nominated reporter for The Tampa Tribune who has now written eleven novels. The Lost Ones is the second to feature Mississippi sheriff Quinn Colson, following The Ranger, published in 2011. Both of the Quinn Colson novels have been nominated for The Mystery Writers of America's prestigious Edgar Award for best mystery novel of the year in successive years.
Quinn Colson is a complex character. He is a former Army Ranger and veteran of deployments in Iraq. He returned to his hometown and became the sheriff. In The Ranger, Colson discovers a group of extremists living in Tibbehah County, Mississippi who are running a lucrative methamphetamine production facility. In The Lost Ones he finds an even more insidious group. They are emissaries from a Mexican drug cartel posing as the operators of a travelling county fair. They have infiltrated rural areas in the South and Southwest in order to procure guns and munitions for their compatriots back home. They are also behind an appalling operation to smuggle in babies for sale.
The Quinn Colson character is much more developed in this novel. Through flashbacks we learn of his run-ins with the law prior to his enlistment in the Army and also the complex relationship with his younger sister Caddy. In this book Caddy has returned home as the single Mom of a mixed race child. She has also come home sober but with a new found religious zeal which is a bit over the top.
I found this book very entertaining and well written. I think the characters are even better developed here than in the first book. Mr. Atkins continues to describe rural Mississippi in interesting and evocative detail. The secondary characters in this story, including an attractive female ATF agent, a corrupt former sheriff of Tibbehah and several other returned veterans of the Global War on Terror are all very compelling. The Lost Ones is certainly a worthy nominee for the Edgar Award and I wouldn't be surprised if it is indeed the winner! I am looking forward to The Broken Places, the third Quinn Colson novel, to be published at the end of May, 2013.