Redneck Noir is Ace!

O.K., show of hands on the part of all those mature and discerning viewers of televised crime fiction who remain baffled and uncomprehending of Television New Zealand’s decision to discontinue what was arguably one of the most engaging, different, and exciting “redneck noir” crime fiction series to grace our Free to Air screens in recent years.

I refer, of course, to the Elmore Leonard-inspired television series Justified sent off to outer darkness (otherwise known as pay TV) after only two seasons.

Cover of The Broken PlacesIt seems unlikely that Television New Zealand will relent and bring back Justified with its two intensely charismatic central characters: Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens and hillbilly bad boy Boyd Crowder.

However, through the medium of the printed page lovers of good-old-boy American rural crime fiction (a distinct sub-genre all of its own, I would argue) can, with the assistance of talented author Ace Atkins, make the acquaintance of ex-Army Ranger and now Sheriff Quinn Colson of the (fictional) Tibbehah County in the (non-fictional) Mississippi Delta.

There are currently three Quinn Colson novels available through Christchurch City Libraries: The Ranger, The Lost Ones and The Broken Places with a fourth to be published later in 2014. Your Humble Blogger (hereinafter, for the sake of brevity, to be referred to as YHB) has read and thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Ones with its disturbing themes of the exploitation of children and child trafficking, and The Broken Places which raises, but does not answer, challenging questions about the possibility of the reformation of a violent offender. I am impatiently waiting to get my hands on The Ranger.

Cover of The RangerBecause YHB does not wish to reveal too much more about the respective story-lines of the novels mentioned above, I will simply content myself with saying that the plots are tight and move along rapidly. Many of Ace Atkins’s characters are less than attractive but they are never dull, blending, as they do, social conservatism, religious fundamentalism and a pre-disposition to violence as a problem-solving strategy. Recourse to violence is never far away but, as is made patently clear, the use of violence never has a happy outcome.

So, for fans of the now departed and much missed Justified TV series, Sheriff Quinn Colson may not be of quite the same stature or have quite the anti-authority panache as Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens, however Sheriff Colson makes for a very acceptable and absorbing alternative within the genre YHB has learned has been described by some as “Grits Lit”. Read and enjoy.

7 thoughts on “Redneck Noir is Ace!

    • bigjohn47 4 May 2014 / 12:48 pm

      “The Lone Ranger”? I wish, robertafsmith. The sad reality is that I have either fallen off, of been tossed off every horse I have ever attempted to ride – effectively disqualifying me, I think you would have to agree, from the flattering label you have tried to bestow upon me

  1. bibliobishi 3 May 2014 / 2:32 pm

    No doubt you have read Kinky Friedman? American is probably the only connection but also quite different. Not sure my delicate constitution is up to the violence of your man John. As a younger being I enjoyed Nero Wolfe and Archie. Not dark or violent obviously….

    • ruby2shoesnz 4 May 2014 / 12:28 pm

      I have yet to read Kinky Friedman but will investigate further. After re-reading my “Red Neck Noir” blog, I consider that I may have unintentionally over-emphasised the violence element. The Quinn Colson yarns are probably no more violent than much contemporary crime fiction. I would encourage you to try one if you are curious.Your reference to Nero Wolfe qualified as being a “blast from the past” for me. I recall Rex Stout’s novels about the dilettante, over-weight private detective who managed to solve crimes without ever leaving the comfort of his New York orchid-filled apartment with affection and as being amongst the stories that brought about my life-long fascination with crime fiction.

  2. bigjohn47 4 May 2014 / 12:41 pm

    Oops, as a result of my inexperience with the processes and protocols of blogging (and replies thereto!) I have inadvertently and quite wrongly attributed my reply to bibliobishi regarding “Red Neck Noir” to ruby2shoesnz. My apologies to both parties.

  3. purplerulzpurplerulz 5 May 2014 / 11:59 am

    My favourite author, Cormac McCarthy does red neck America so well! It pretty bleak at times, and it’s not only crime, but if you want a taste of how people do it tough, elegantly and beautifully written, give him a go!

  4. OriginalAR 6 May 2014 / 10:55 am

    Excellent Blog bigjohn, look forward to your next review!

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