Quinn Colson is an Army Ranger who returns on leave to his home in Tibbehah County in northeastern Mississippi, to attend the funeral of his uncle who had been the local sheriff. Upon arriving, he is shocked to learn that his uncle apparently committed suicide. He is even more upset when Lillie Virgil, a deputy sheriff, suggests that his uncle was actually murdered.
Quinn is also troubled by the fact that while he has been overseas defending his country, both his family and his home town have badly deteriorated. His father, a former movie stuntman, had abandoned the family years earlier. Now his sister, Caddy, has left home as well, tumbling into a sordid world of drugs and other vices. Caddy has left her small child with Quinn's mom, who is not coping with the world all that well herself. Meanwhile, Tibbehah County is sadly overrun with schemers, thugs, and corrupt local officials and is sinking under the tide of a meth epidemic.
Quinn's uncle has left his home and farm to Quinn, but then a local would-be wheeler-dealer named Johnny Stagg shows up, claiming that he has liens against the property and that he intends to take possession. Quinn has only a few days before he's due back at his Army post, and clearly he's got a lot of work to do before then to sort all of this out. As he probes more deeply into his uncle's death and the other problems of the county, he stirs up a proverbial hornets' nest and the blood begins to flow.
This is the first book in a new series and Ace Atkins has created here a very intriguing protagonist. He has also surrounded him with a great cast of characters both good and bad and set them in a very well-drawn world that is interesting in and of itself. The book is somewhat reminiscent of Ken Mercer's Slow Fire, which also portrays the way in which the scourge of meth can eat away at a small town and its inhabitants.
Ace Atkins has been much in the book news lately for taking over Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, and his first Spenser book, Robert B. Parker's Lullaby, has just been released. But Quinn Colson is at least as compelling a character as Spenser and I'm looking forward to the coming books in the series.