The Gentiles by Ace Atkins is the 11th Quinn Colson novel in which Sheriff and his former deputy Lillie Virgil are on opposite sides of a case for the first time after a woman is found dead and three criminal teenagers go on the run.
Sheriff Quinn Colson believes he has finally found some peace and quiet in Tibbehah County, Mississippi, a reward for years for his and his staff’s hard work and sacrifices in the process of freeing the county from its former criminal kingpins. He enjoys married life with his wife, Maggie; stepson, Brandon; and newborn daughter, Halley, while taking care of the usual small-town crime. In fact, life is becoming quite comfortable in the county seat of Jericho now that the corruption that held it back has taken root.
Almost every storefront was occupied now, including a new coffee shop, a Vietnamese restaurant, and a mixed martial arts studio. The city looked better than Quinn could ever remember. Trees and shrubs were trimmed, sidewalks fixed and stored canopies new and repaired.
“Have you ever missed the way it was?” Asked Varner.
“No,” Quinn said.
“Not me either. All you can do now is fuck it all.”
“Appreciate the trust of the younger generation, Luther.”
Alas, it’s the younger generation that forms the wildly beating heart in Quinn’s next big case when local wine shop owner Chester Pratt files a missing person’s report on his much younger girlfriend, Gina Byrd. Gina’s 17-year-old daughter, TJ, insists that mother went to Louisiana with friends and that she can take care of her 9-year-old brother, John Wesley, alone, thank you very much. But after China’s remains are found cut up in a barrel in nearby Parsham County, TJ abruptly flees, taking John Wesley as well as her boyfriend, Ladarius, and best friend, Holly, with her.
Chester insists that TJ should be held responsible for her mother’s gruesome killings, as she had threatened both him and Gina with violence if they tried to end her interracial relationship with Ladarius by sending her away to a Christian girls’ academy. Quinn’s former deputy and current US Marshall Lillie Virgil, who grew up with Gina and has a soft spot for her wayward friend, is convinced that TJ has had problems from the cradle. Running away makes TJ look guilty as a sin, but Quinn wants to give TJ the benefit of the doubt as he uses a rare phone call to try to persuade the increasingly desperate teenager to come home.
“I get blamed for everything,” she said. “Even when I did not. Even when it’s not my fault. Sometimes you get so down on yourself that you just start acting like what is expected of you. You know? What’s the damn point? Might as well be an outlaw. That’s what people want to see. ”
“No, you do not.”
“I ran wild when I was your age,” he said. “I stole some cars. Got a bit drunk. Hunted on posted land. Hell, once my best friend and I stole a fire truck. ”
“Ask anyone,” Quinn said. “I was mad as hell and did not know why.”
“I know what you’re doing,” said TJ. “And I do not have time for any dr. Phil-shit, sheriff.[“]
When the refugees coincide with a teenager with skilled social media skills, their case goes viral, with TJ praying his innocence for the world to see. But there are people who shoot after TJ and her crew, people with violent tendencies and a little creepy against using them. Soon it’s a race against time, as Quinn alternately in conflict and working with Lillie must track down the children before people with far more vicious intentions do so.
Based on true events that Ace Atkins covered as a journalist, his 11th Quinn Colson novel finds Quinn cross-referenced with Lillie for the first time in their careers, as they each juggle parenthood with their responsibilities as police officers. In addition to reconsidering a tragic criminal case, The Gentiles also continues the series’ amazing study of crime and values in rural areas and kicks over shibboleths to show the good, bad and ugly life of the modern south.
After the arduous events of history in the previous book, The Revelers, this rate is a good starting point for readers who are new to the series. But be warned: nature abhors a vacuum, and just because Quinn has gotten rid of a set of villains does not mean that someone else is not waiting to seep their way to power, as the ending excitingly promises.
Read Doreen Sheridan’s review of the 10th Quinn Colson novel, The Revelers!
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