Review: The Innocents by Ace Atkins

Title: The Innocents
Author: Ace Atkins
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery
Source: Free ARC from G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Rating: C-

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Review: It’s probably fairest to say that this book wasn’t for me. The writing was fine, I just couldn’t relate to the setting, and I didn’t like the people much. Not even the good guys. And while I didn’t figure out all the intricacies of the mystery right away, I did figure out the major players and their parts pretty early on.

One part of me wants to say that I couldn’t stand all the ugliness, and the negative southern stereotypes (poor, violent, racist, stupid and hypocritical) were way too overdrawn for me. But I’m not a wimp, and I believe that books should take us out of our comfort zone, that books should take us places we haven’t been/wouldn’t ordinarily go, and help us to grasp what life is like for those who are different from us. But this characterization didn’t sit well with me. It just felt like a world of overwhelmingly horrible people, and it tainted the whole book for me. I know there are bad people in the world, I know that some people do, in fact, fall in line with certain stereotypes, but I refuse to buy into a world, fictional or otherwise, where most people have very little about them that is redeemable.

On the whole, the cynical depiction of the southern poor was my only real complaint, and that may very well be my own personal thing. It was a decent enough story, and I imagine that if you are an Ace Atkins fan (I’m a newbie), and, in particular a fan of this series – being familiar with the characters and the town already – perhaps you would enjoy this installment in the series. I imagine the elements that are present in this sixth installment were present in the earlier books, so if you’ve read more than one, those elements don’t bother you. But this isn’t a series I would pick up again.

That said, I’d be willing to try something else by Ace Atkins as I understand he’s won awards for his writing, and it’s very possible that it’s just this series in particular that I don’t like. Every once in a while, a writer I love delivers something I don’t care for. Maybe this just wasn’t the right place for me to start with Mr. Atkins.

2 Replies to “Review: The Innocents by Ace Atkins”

  1. I checked reviews after reading this book. Most are very favorable, but I tend to agree with you. I don’t think I’ve read others in this series, but I have read some of his work in continuing to write of Robert Parker’s characters. The book didn’t really ring true for me, and the main character was almost a minor character. The ending confused me. The jacket contained many blurbs by authors I really like, just goes to show that you can’t count on them?

    • Hi! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!Yeah, I agree that the main character seemed like a background character. Kind of like the author was setting things up to take the series in another direction, but put him in for familiarity. I’m not familiar with the series, since this was my first, but it seemed odd to me.

      As for author blurbs, I think it depends a lot on the author. It must be tricky to be asked to provide a blurb for a book, perhaps by a shared publisher. What if you don’t like it? Do you feel like you have to do the blurb, and you come up with something that isn’t exactly a lie? And as I’m sure is true of any industry, not everyone has the same level of integrity. I would think the more popular authors would have enough industry cred to not have to resort to giving less than honest blurbs, but who knows.

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