Michael E reviewed a book.
The Broken Places (A Quinn Colson Novel)
“I liked the dialog and dynamics of small town life in this crime thriller, but those pleasures were inadequate to overcome the seeming stupidity of the plotting. This is the third of this series about an ex-Special Forces man assuming the role of sheriff in his old home town of Jericho,...”
“I liked the dialog and dynamics of small town life in this crime thriller, but those pleasures were inadequate to overcome the seeming stupidity of the plotting. This is the third of this series about an ex-Special Forces man assuming the role of sheriff in his old home town of Jericho, Mississippi (and the first I’ve read). In this one, Colson Quinn spends a lot of time wishing he could divert his sister Caddy from her involvement with an ex-con turned evangelist, Jamey. I was a bit disappointed to experience his largely reactive to the mayhem created by a couple of prison escapees who come to town expecting Jamey to come up with their missing take of an old armored car bank robbery.
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Much of the story deals with Jamey trying to start a church in a barn and his and Caddy’s efforts to stand up to the vengeful judgments of town residents over his mysterious role in the death of woman in an alcohol and drug induced haze. The reader never learns enough to draw a conclusion, but we are led to root for his courage and are tempted to believe in the power of redemption and forgiveness. Caddy has a degenerate past she is trying to surmount and is trying to become a good mother for her young child, whose father cannot be identified. Yet they are ineffective to do anything meaningful to foil the bad guys in this tale, no more than the town itself when a massive tornado strikes late in the story.
The bad guys bumble around killing and kidnapping people with little concern about hiding their presence. Atkins tries to give them some trash-talking, humorous flavor in the vein of Elmore Leonard, but the effort didn’t engage me. The corrupt and colorful police chief, Johnny Stagg, plays a major role in this story, but he does not feel very believable to me. Could a bible-thumping town in the South really countenance a policeman who runs a strip club? As Quinn’s permanent nemesis, I suppose we will deal with his downfall on a future date.
I was pleased with the colorful cast of secondary characters that bring some life to the rural community Atkins has created. These include Quinn’s mother Jean, his female chief deputy Lillie, his former army buddy Boon, and the two love interests in Quinn’s life, the town mortician Ophelia and his old high school girlfriend Amelia, now married. I will definitely give Atkins some more chances to find his stride, hungry as I am to find another James Lee Burke or Lee Child.