Author: Ace Atkins; c.2017, Putnam; $27; 358 pages

People talk.

Yammer, yammer, yammer, that’s how it is. A shred of story starts and it doesn’t go far before it’s blown up to big proportions and even bigger half-truths. And yet, people talk – but in the new novel, “The Fallen” by Ace Atkins, what they’re saying isn’t quite enough.

Ninety seconds.

That’s all the time Rick Wilcox allowed for a bank robbery. He and his soldier, Opie, donned rubber masks, entered the bank, shot a few bullets, and took whatever armored-car deposit they knew had just been made. In ninety seconds or less, they were out the door and into whatever vehicle Sgt. Jonas Cord had stolen. Gone, until the next time, in the next town.

Tibbehah County , Mississippi , Sheriff Quinn Colson hadn’t heard about the robberies until they hit his hometown of Jericho , but he had to hand it to the thieves: they were as clever as they were quick. Their latest heist, the one at Jericho First National Bank, wasn’t going to be their last; of that, Quinn was certain. These guys reminded him of his time in the military. They sure operated like Rangers.

But although the robbery happened in Tibbehah County , it wasn’t so much Quinn’s problem as it was for the Feds. Quinn’s issues were a little more home-grown: petty theft, drunkenness, and trying to shut down the local strip club on orders from the new leader of local government. The owner of Vienna ’s Place, Fanny Hathcock, was about to tangle with the wrong official, and she likely didn’t even realize it.

But Fanny Hathcock was no pushover. With flame-red hair, low-cut dresses, and velvet pumps, her specialties included money-laundering, prostitution, and providing girls for other operations up and down the South. She was well aware of where the power lay in the Mid-South: she had contacts from Florida to Memphis to New Orleans , in and out of prison. That was all going to make Fanny Hathcock very rich and very happy.

And if she could find Jonas Cord another place to rob, well, that was even better…

After you come home from fetching “The Fallen,” here’s what you do: grab your planner and “X” out the next three or four days. You’ve got an appointment with a book, and that’s all you’ll have time for.

Author Ace Atkins makes it easy to get lost down a dirt road in Quinn Colson’s world, but readers would be well-advised to keep their eyes open out there. There’s more than one surprise in this story, and plenty of properly cringe-worthy deaths as Atkins let loose with good folks, the expected bad guys, and one hilariously-named contact – but beware: between good and evil, the line can be blurred. That’s where this novel, lightly complex and filled with loose threads, will keep those eyes open well after bedtime.

Though this is the next installment in a series, you’ll catch up quick if “The Fallen” is your first foray to Tibbehah County . If you’ve been there before, invite your book club. This’ll make them talk.

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