A valiant hero to root for, a vividly rendered small-town setting, lots of expertly managed violence: another crowd-pleaser...

THE LOST ONES

Atkins’ sequel to The Ranger (2011) finds Quinn Colson counting the ways in which his Afghanistan tours resemble life in the nice little Mississippi town that’s just elected him sheriff.

Begin with the complicated matter of identifying “friendlies.” What with turf wars and hidden agendas, not all law enforcement people march in lock step, Quinn discovers. Long legs, pretty red hair and an FBI power suit, for instance, do not, for sure, an ally make. They can signal one thing, then its opposite, and sometimes both simultaneously—mixed signals with the potential for dangerous, even deadly confusion. Along those same lines, an old pal with whom Quinn once happily tormented the juvenile authorities of Tibbehah County, Miss., now travels a crooked path to nowhere and can no longer be trusted. On the other hand, it’s a good bet that even Afghanistan might never be able to duplicate the homegrown nastiness of Johnny Stagg, the bottom feeder Quinn replaced as sheriff, and about whom the usually even-tempered, essence-of-cool Quinn is heard to say, “I’d like to punch Johnny Stagg in the throat.” Whether the business is dismal enough—and profitable enough—depends on ex-sheriff Stagg being somehow near the core of it. And suddenly Tibbehah County is rife with dismal profitable opportunities. There’s gunrunning activity involving bloodthirsty Mexican cartels, a thriving cottage industry in baby-selling, and more, all of which keeps Sheriff Quinn stepping briskly to keep up. Add to this a full familial plate: His wayward kid sister has unexpectedly returned. To reclaim the little boy she left in Quinn’s charge? Good, hard-to-answer question. So, with his own agenda piled high and spilling over every which way, it’s entirely possible that from time to time Quinn might ask himself if Afghanistan was…well…quite as singular as he’d thought.

A valiant hero to root for, a vividly rendered small-town setting, lots of expertly managed violence: another crowd-pleaser from a thriller-meister at the top of his game.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15876-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Box handles this foolproof formula with complete assurance, keeping the pot at a full boil until the perfunctory,...

THE HIGHWAY

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Breaking Point, 2013, etc.) works the area around Yellowstone National Park in this stand-alone about a long-haul trucker with sex and murder on his mind.

The Lizard King, as he calls himself, normally targets lot lizards—prostitutes who work the parking lots adjacent to the rest stops that dot interstate highways. But he’s more than happy to move up to a higher class of victim when he runs across the Sullivan sisters. Danielle, 18, and Gracie, 16, are supposed to be driving from their mother’s home in Denver to their father’s in Omaha, but Danielle has had the bright idea of heading instead to Bozeman, Mont., to visit her boyfriend, Justin Hoyt. Far from home, their whereabouts known to only a few people, the girls are the perfect victims even before they nearly collide with the Lizard King’s rig and Danielle flips him off. Hours later, very shortly after he’s caught up with them in the depths of Yellowstone and done his best to eradicate every trace of his abduction, Justin, worried that Danielle refused his last phone call, tells his father that something bad has happened. Cody Hoyt, an investigator for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department, is already having a tough day: At the insistence of his crooked boss, Sheriff Tubman, his longtime student and new partner, Cassandra Dewell, has just caught him planting evidence in an unrelated murder, and he’s been suspended from his job. If he’s lost his badge, though, Cody’s got plenty of time on his hands to drive downstate and meet with State Trooper Rick Legerski, the ex-husband of his dispatcher’s sister, to talk about what to do next. And so the countdown begins.

Box handles this foolproof formula with complete assurance, keeping the pot at a full boil until the perfunctory, anticlimactic and unsatisfactory ending.

Pub Date: July 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-58320-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Not terribly suspenseful, but as a dissection of a family in crisis, it works.

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY

In Swedish author Edvardsson’s U.S debut, a family is shattered by a heinous crime.

Adam is a well-respected pastor, and his wife, Ulrika, is a defense attorney. Their daughter, Stella, has just turned 18 and is planning a trip to Asia. From the outside, the Sandells are the perfect family, but that facade crumbles when Stella is arrested for the brutal stabbing of 32-year-old Christopher Olsen at a playground. On the night of the murder, Adam finds Stella’s shirt covered in dark stains; he will do anything to keep his daughter out of prison, including providing a false alibi, but his decision contradicts his faith and shakes him to his core. The story is told in three parts, from the viewpoints of Adam, Stella, and Ulrika. Adam presents Stella as a troubled child and out-of-control teen. Stella reveals that much of her acting out stemmed from her desire to control her own life, her father’s overprotectiveness, and her mother’s perceived coldness. Further, Adam and Ulrika’s failure to report a sexual assault on Stella by a trusted camp director when Stella was 15 created a permanent fissure in the family. Stella’s whirlwind affair with the wealthy and attentive Chris is complicated by his ex-girlfriend, who tells Stella he’s abusive. The romance eventually spins out of control, but could Stella be a killer? Much of Ulrika’s narrative is spent in the courtroom during Stella’s murder trial, which may lead some readers to feel like she got short shrift. In between flashes of courtroom drama, Ulrika contemplates her marriage, motherhood, and her alienation in the face of what she felt was an impenetrable relationship between Adam and Stella. The murder mystery falls a bit flat and the resolution is overly neat, but Edvardsson ably weaves themes of parental guilt and sacrifice into a nuanced family drama.

Not terribly suspenseful, but as a dissection of a family in crisis, it works.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20443-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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