Tuesday, August 8, 2023

I'm in Pain (The Ranger--book review)

 I just finished a book called 'The Ranger' by Ace Atkins.  It's the first in a series of books about a army ranger named Quinn Colson.  In this book he returns to his hometown for a family funeral & runs into drug dealers.  We finally end with him back on base but injured on desk duty.  I picture him moving home to be the new town sheriff.  I can only surmise that because it's the last book in the series I'll be reading.  

Holy cow.

The writing is awful.  There are waaaaaaay too many useless characters, everyone but Quinn & Deputy Lillie a complete idiot. The dialogue is repetitive.  There are complete chapters that are completely unnecessary.  It's setting is a Mississippi small town full of rednecks drinking nothing but Mountain Dew, living in squalor & throwing their trash along the side of the road.  

I don't know where Ace was born but he went to school at Auburn so I assume he is a southerner.  I'm personally insulted by his portrayal of small town southerners as ignorant hicks with no pride in their lives, homes or towns. 

To top it off, the writing is just plain bad.  One instance is described a drug dealer's car as a "cherry red EL Camino"...which was great the 1st time but he used all 4 words every other time he described it.   Dude, we got it the 1st time. Cherry red.

And I had to read a couple of chapters a couple of times to even figure out who or what he was talking about.  

The boy needs an editor.

I at first thought it was self published because I could not figure out how he got past a real live publisher.  But it was published in 2011 when publishers had less strigent standards & before self publishing became a thing.

I became acquainted with Ace because when one of my favorite authors, Robert B Parker died, his estate, in a bid to keep the money train running, hired Ace to take over Parker's character, Spencer.  He did a pretty good job, though the last 2 books were kind of lazy & unimaginative.  Plus,in the last book he called God a she, gave a Hawk a daughter & killed a semi regular character for no reason. Granted he was not a hugely important character but he was a legacy guy who showed up several times over the years. It's pretty evident he's over the character. Luckily, he's announced the last book was his last book in the series.  He's passing the torch to another author who too over some of Parker's other characters.  I have not read him but may give him a look.

Truthfully, it may be time for Spenser (with an "s" like the poet).  It's been 50 books, he no longer points out that he's "dressed to the nines, armed to the teeth".  Mostly he spends more time with boring Susan who sips martinis,nibbles on peas & gives sexual innuendos.  Hawk still grunts & dresses well.  And of course all the dogs named Pearl in Boston.  The thrill is kind of gone.

I wrote a post about Ace & RBP earlier that said he did a pretty good job & I meant it.  But it's obviously he can take an established set of characters & keep them going.  But he has an inability to develop characters or his owns stories.  Maybe he's gotten better since his first book.  But he & I are done.


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