Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review: The Revelators

The Revelators The Revelators by Ace Atkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for review.

A completely immoral man has taken charge of the government, and the wave of corruption and racism he unleashed is completely undermining the rule of law. Welcome to America. Oops. I meant – Welcome to Tibbehah County, Mississippi.

I can’t imagine how I mixed that up…

As Sheriff Quinn Colson is recovering after being shot, the new shithead governor is cutting deals with criminals and the filthy rich while blaming everything wrong with the world on immigrants and liberals. So Quinn is sidelined while the new local crime boss, Fannie Hathcock, expands her operation with the assistance of the crooked temporary sheriff appointed by the gov. If that’s not enough to worry about, Quinn also has a pregnant wife about to deliver a baby, the old friend he sent to prison for selling automatic weapons just got released, and he’s getting a touch too fond of the painkillers he’s been taking…

Ace Atkins has been working up to this point for several books, and while current events were certainly a big influence on it, he never loses the story threads and themes he’s developed over the course of the series. As always, while Quinn is the focus there’s a lot of time spent with other people so that Tibbehah County is a complete world in which every character has their own story. Whether it’s Quinn’s nephew struggling to help a young immigrant girl whose mother has been arrested and is about to be deported, or Fannie Hathcock ruthlessly running her small empire, it all feels like this is a bunch of real people whose lives get tangled up in various ways as they pursue their own agendas.

The structure of the series has been to tell a fairly self-contained story in each one while leaving some threads dangling to pick up in the next book, but this has more of a wrap-up feel to it with Atkins delivering some definite conclusions to several of the plots that have been on the boil for a while now. The payoffs are well done overall, and as usual, nothing in Tibbehah County goes exactly according to plan.

The only problem is one I’ve seen in other books based on the political events of the last few years. Essentially, I think crime writers tend to do stories about justice being done in some fashion, and they just couldn’t imagine how bad things would actually get when they were working on these books a year or two ago. (Life comes at you fast these days.) So in this current hellscape when it often feels like the entire justice system has broken down, and there’s no scandal that can’t be spun on Fox News, a book like this can end up feeling kind of na├»ve and simplistic.

As I’ve noted in other reviews with similar problems, I don’t blame the authors for this because think about what I’m really saying here. – The problem with a book in which a criminal governor takes over a state and fills it with corrupt officials is that it isn't cynical enough because reality has proven to be so much worse.

That’s pretty fucked up.

So again, I don’t really count it as a strike against the books or Atkins’ plotting. It’s just that it’s really tough for creators to come up with stories that could have imagined the depths we’d sink to so fast with little hope of the good guys winning.

Setting that aside, it’s always a pleasure to check in with Quinn and what’s going on in Tibbehah, and it was nice to get some satisfying conclusions to several of the on-going stories with the prospect of a doozy of a new one now hanging out there.

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