‘The Lost Ones’ good next step for Ace Atkins

After a few years as a writer of solid, entertaining crime novels, Ace Atkins drew a lot of attention among readers in the past year when he was chosen by Robert B. Parker’s estate to continue the beloved writer’s Spenser series. The result, “Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby,” was as good as anything Parker has written in recent years.

But Atkins is at his best when he plays with his own creations, including southern P.I. Nick Travers.

I’ve come to enjoy a new series by Atkins featuring Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger out of the military and back in his small Mississippi home town. Colson debuted in “The Ranger” and is back in “The Lost Ones.”

It’s no surprise that Atkins was chosen to continue Parker’s best-known series. He’s a straightforward writer prone to crime stories that feature a strong protagonist who knows right from wrong and pushes and pushes until the bad guys make a mistake.

In “The Lost Ones,” Atkins sets Colson, now the sheriff of Tibbehah County, against trouble from south of the border. An infant has been killed and Colson and dependable, sarcastic deputy Lillie Virgil and war buddy Boom find themselves dealing not only with a couple that buys and sells babies but also a crew looking to buy enough stolen guns to outfit an army.

Complicating matters are Quinn’s sister, Caddy, a true “lost one,” and his longtime friend Donnie, who’s catering to the gun buyers.

“The Lost Ones” is a satisfying read with an engaging set of characters. I look forward to Atkins’ next story about Colson and company.

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