Ace Atkins will have two books coming out in the next few months. “Slow Burn” brings back Robert B. Parker’s character, private investigator Spenser, and his Quinn Colson series, “The Innocents.” Coincidentally each book cover and plot has elements of fire.
“Slow Burn,” published the first week in May, begins with a church on fire. Spenser is hired to find out who is behind a series of fires that appear to be set intentionally. With the help of his trusted ally Hawk, his apprentice, Sixkill, and his psychologist girlfriend Susan it becomes apparent the trail of fires leads to Boston’s underworld. They must find the firebug before he kills again and destroys more property.
“The Innocents” will be published in July. Sherriff Lillie Virgil enlists the former Sherriff Quinn Colson to help find Milly Jones’ killer. Someone set her on fire and had her walk on a highway.
Atkins was asked to compare the Spenser and Quinn Colson series.
“All the stories are hero driven with themes of honor, respect, and tolerance,” he said. “They are written stylistically different.” The Spenser stories are told through his eyes and voice, while the Quinn stories are about everyone in the one county. The Quinn series has a continuing storyline, much like a long-term arc in a TV show.”
Both these plots are based on true stories. Atkins explained, “They are taken from the headlines. With “Slow Burn” I found a string of arsons dealing with insurance fraud, which occurred in Boston a few decades ago. However, after meeting with those in the Boston arson unit I was told it would never happen like that today because property is so valuable. There is no money to be made in burning down a building. I refigured the plot and came up with the idea of guys banding together to start these fires. “
Regarding the plot for “The Innocents” Atkins said, “The story was inspired by true facts. A young girl over a year ago was found walking down a highway while completely on fire. There was a mystery surrounding the circumstances of her death. Another character was based on a long time well respected football coach accused of some nasty stuff. Because he was a pillar of the community no one spoke up even though they knew what was happening.”
The difference between the two series characters is that Quinn is a former Army Ranger. Atkins definitely does his homework getting military figures as fact checkers. “My good friend, retired US Army Colonel George Reynolds, steers me in the right direction. He put me in touch with a young Ranger so I was able to learn about his experiences and training. It was George who suggested Quinn not become a contractor, but work for the Defense Department. My network of those assisting me, people in the military, has quadrupled.”
Readers will also find a difference in the themes of the two series. The Spenser books are more action packed and the emphasis is on his character. The other series is more a book about community, family, and a Southern town with emphasis on social issues, corruption, and power.
Both books have very well developed characters and plots that will keep the reader turning the pages.