For this book, I took a step back from all of the novels I’ve been reading geared toward women. I’ve never read a novel by Ace Atkins so I had no preconceived notions of what to expect.
The Lost Ones is a story about a man just home from his last tour as a Ranger. Quinn Colson is the newly elected sheriff of an everybody-knows-everybody town in northern Mississippi that has been faltering for quite some time. Since I’m not a crime reader by nature, the business of the plot, especially toward the end kept me feeling any emotion toward characters. It is definitely plot-driven rather than a character-driven.
Quinn Colson didn’t ring true for me. He’s 30ish, bad seed come clean. He read like a knock-off of Andy from Mayberry and the small town setting only served to add to it. He wasn’t an unlikable character, he just didn’t have that real feel and I found no reason to sympathize with him or his situation. He came off not as wise for his years, but old for his years. (I felt more of a connection with Boom, a secondary character.)
The back story that belonged to Quinn and his sister, Caddy. Why was it there? I have no clue. A subplot, I know, but it had no real purpose. I felt like it was added to bulk up the book. This was a story about Mexican gangs and how they (coexist, use, harm) innocent people, and the small town conmen who get involved with them. And the fact that the subplot was told as dreams? Flashbacks? Just thrown in there?… was off. There was no real purpose for his ex-girlfriend either. She was not instrumental to the story.
Aside from a lack in character development, I did enjoy the book. Atkins writes with a fresh voice and it didn’t read like every other crime novel out there. There were a couple of things I noticed that didn’t take away from the story as much as my attention when I came across them.
First, the book is written in third person single POV, but the author falls into third person multiple POV several times, for no more than a sentence or two. One example, page 71 – The entire scene is told in Quinn’s POV, but all of a sudden, we head hop to Dinah Brand… ‘Brand took in a cautious breath, one that let her think for a moment, decide what to say. She wasn’t really sure about Quinn, not too sure if some hick sheriff could keep up with someone who trained in Washington. Always an enlisted man.’ Quinn would have had no way of knowing she was thinking those things, so the reader shouldn’t have been made aware of her thoughts. There were several head hops throughout the book.
Another small thing that should have been picked up by someone at the publishing house, if not the author:
Page 327 – “The woman’s worth it?” Luther said.
Page 335 – “That all of ’em?” Lillie asked.
It was small punctuation and dialogue tag mistakes and some might say that’s being picky, but with all of the good books out there, you really have to be anal about the small stuff as well as the large. If I can spot mistakes (in anyone’s book but my own it seems), so do other readers.
I am not decimating this book. As I said, I enjoyed it. There were just a couple things that done differently would have made the book a much stronger read. Would I recommend it, absolutely. And now that I have pointed out the weak points, you can read it in its entirety without having to slow down when you hit them. Would I read another by this author? Yes.
Agree? Disagree? A review is nothing more than one reader’s opinion. I’d love to hear yours!
Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies