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Friday, August 7, 2015


3.5 stars out of 5

The concept of product placement has been around for years; it's not unusual to see a can of name-brand soda or a cup of coffee from a major chain in a TV show. As more folks watch recorded shows and skip over the commercials, it's become an alternate (and most likely pretty effective) way to beat TiVo and keep the advertisers happy.

The practice happens in books as well, although from what I've read it started more recently. Mind you, I'm not saying for certain that's the case in this one, but when at least five mentions of a specific brand of outdoor clothing popped up even before the halfway point, it sure made me wonder. To be sure, it's a well-known brand that the characters might well own, but with that many name drops, I'm hoping somebody got paid very well (hint from me for the next in the series: One or two mentions is acceptable, but more than that is enough, already)!

The book itself - the fifth featuring former U.S. Army Ranger and Tibbehah County, Mississippi, sheriff Quinn Colson - just didn't grab me even though it's well written as usual. To begin with, Colson, who has been voted out of office and is in the process of packing up his [insert brand name here] jacket and other belongings, just isn't a person with whom I can identify. He continues to wrestle with his on-again, off-again drug- and alcohol-addicted sister Caddy - though why, I don't know. Sister or no sister, I'd have kicked her sorry butt to the curb after the second round of rehab didn't "take." Then there's a gone-again, here-again father who still revels in his Hollywood stuntman days, a mother who cooks a couple of things really, really well and a couple of seriously corrupt folks such as Johnny Stagg who have been running their illicit schemes for years without much interference.

So far, nobody's been able to bring Stagg down, but if anyone can do it, Colson can - and he's willing to die trying whether or not he's the sheriff. The action begins with a break-in at the home of a lumber mill owner wherein a huge safe is stolen. Apparently, it held not only tons of money, but documents that could incriminate Stagg and a number of his cronies. Even though he's no longer a lawman, Colson is asked by the acting sheriff, his friend Lillie Virgil, and his long-time love, Anna Lee Stevens (who he "stole" from her husband and onetime close friend), to investigate. 

After that, a tangled web gets woven so fast it made my eyes cross. So many characters started popping in and out of the chapters that beyond the major players, I gave up trying to figure out who did what and who was in cahoots with whom. In the end, things get sorted out and for the most part, justice is served - and a twist leaves the door open for the next installment.

I'll also caution those who care about such things that the language from the backwoods good ol' boys is coarse, to say the least - particularly when it comes to the female anatomy (that said, no, I did not learn any new words). All told, this is a solid addition to the series, but far from my pick of the litter.

The Redeemers by Ace Atkins (G.P. Putnam's Sons, July 2015); 384 pp.

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