When Army Ranger Quinn Colson, the new sheriff of Tebbehah County, is called out to investigate a child abuse case, what he finds is a horrifying scene of neglect, thirteen empty cribs, and a shoe box full of money. Janet and Ramon Torres seem to have skipped town - but Colson's sure they'll come back for the cash. Meanwhile, Colson's sister has returned - clean and sober for good she says. His friend Boom has been drinking himself into oblivion and picking fights at the local bar. And his old flame is pregnant.
But Colson can't focus on his personal problems. He and Deputy Lillie Virgil are convinced that Janet and Ramon have a taste for guns, drugs, and human trafficking. Soon Colson and Virgil find a link between the fugitive couple and a drug cartel that controls most of the Texas border, taking their investigation far beyond the rough hills of northeast Mississippi...
Edgar-finalist Atkins showcases his versatility in his exciting, thoughtful second thriller starring ex-Ranger turned lawman Quinn Colson (after 2011's The Ranger). Colson, who survived tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has only recently become sheriff in Tibbehah County, Miss., where graft is personified by Johnny Stagg, president of the board of county supervisors. Stagg, who was Colson's opponent in a special election to fill the vacant sheriff's position, is now determined to make life difficult for his adversary. Things are challenging enough without this personal animus. A battered child brought into the local trauma center leads the authorities to a horrific baby farm, and Donnie Varner, an old friend of Colson's, has gotten mixed up with some very bad and very violent people. Atkins manages to sell the notion of a contemporary laconic lead battling evil that could come straight out of a Gary Cooper western. Author tour.