Crime fiction roundup: A new Quinn Colson tale from author Ace Atkins; Martin Walker’s “The Templars’ Last Secret,” and the final book from Seattle’s Larry Karp.
Summer seems to finally be here, along with three of this month’s many hammock-worthy crime novels.
Ace Atkins has a well-deserved solid reputation for his tales of Quinn Colson, the sheriff of fictional Tibbehah County, Mississippi. “The Fallen” (Putnam’s, 368 pp., $27.00) is the latest in this robust and satisfying series.
It opens as a team of Marines turned serial bank robbers hits its latest target, which is in Colson’s turf. They’re no-nonsense pros with trademark disguises: Donald Trump masks.
But the robbers are just one problem facing Colson, the kind of droll tough-guy hero typified by Spenser, the late Robert B. Parker’s renowned private eye. (Atkins has written many Spenser books authorized by Parker’s estate.)
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Specifically, a mob-connected, smartass brothel owner is battling with a local politician. Colson’s sister, who runs a scrappy ministry, is searching for two missing women. And Colson’s romance with a childhood friend saddled with a creepy ex-husband is blossoming.
Memorable characters power Atkins’ multiple plots, and his gift for balancing taut action and wry humor is on full throttle.
Martin Walker’s “The Templars’ Last Secret” (Knopf, 336 pp., $25.95) brings back his immensely appealing, sharp-witted Inspector Bruno, chief of police in the small French town of St. Denis.
Walker likes to mix rural France’s pleasures with surprising themes. Here, an Israeli activist is murdered while defacing a medieval castle, ancient cave paintings are endangered, and a decades-old sex abuse scandal is revived.
None of this negates Bruno’s daily life — including his inability to resist good food, the marriage of old friends, and his courtship of a fetching federal magistrate.
Larry and Casey Karp’s “The RagTime Traveller” (Poisoned Pen, 300pp., $15.95 paperback original) marks the last book by Larry Karp, a Seattle physician who died in 2016. The book was completed by Karp’s son.
Karp was a man of many talents, notably writing mysteries honoring his great love for ragtime music.
In this lively book, Alan Chandler, a Seattle music scholar, receives an intriguing package from a friend: previously undiscovered compositions by the ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin.
Chandler and his grandson travel to Joplin’s hometown, Sedalia, Missouri, to investigate. Imagine his surprise when he is transported briefly to 1899 and meets Joplin himself. Back in the present, Chandler finds that his old friend has been killed and the notebooks stolen.
Solving the crime requires our man to shuttle back in forth in time — syncopated time, of course.