Ace Atkins hits the road behind new Spenser, Quinn Colson novels

Ace Atkins has a busy month ahead of him.

On May 1, the crime novelist (The RangerInfamousCrossroad Blues and a fistful of others) begins an eight-stop jaunt in support of Lullaby, his first effort as the new scribe behind Robert B. Parker’s popular series of Spenser novels. Atkins was hand-picked by Putnam and the late Parker’s estate to continue the series, and this first book is getting good early reviews. Of course, the real reaction everyone is waiting for is what happens when the die-hard Spenser fans get hold of the book. If Atkins can please them and manage to construct a fresh take that doesn’t feel like a stale retread – a fine line, to be sure – then it will be a job well done. Having read a good bit of Atkins’ work, I think the series is in good hands, and I hope this opens up a whole new fanbase for him.

A few weeks later – beginning on May 31, to be exact – Atkins will be on tour again, this time supporting The Lost Ones, the second book in his own Quinn Colson series. Atkins introduced Colson, a former Army Ranger who returns home to Mississippi to find a county overrun with corruption and violence, in last year’s well-received book The RangerThe Lost Ones finds Colson, who is now the sheriff of troubled Tibbehah County, trying to bust up a bootleg baby racket that’s taken root in his own backyard. The Ranger was a fun read, and there’s a lot of potential for some good Southern noir in the series and the setting. Atkins lives in Mississippi and is a former crime reporter, so he knows of what he writes, and I’m anticipating great things from the Colson books to come.

Below is the full list of tour dates, ripped straight from the author’s website. If he’s coming to your area, make the time to stop by and try one of his books. He’s a personable guy, takes the time to really have a conversation with his fans at these signings, and he’s a helluva writer.

Lullaby Tour, Summer 2012
Tuesday, May 1: New York, New York | Mysterious Bookshop
Wednesday, May 2: New York, New York
Thursday, May 3, 4:30 p.m.: Boston, Massachusetts | Project Jumpstart
Friday, May 4, 7:00 p.m.: Boston, Massachusetts | Porter Square Books
Saturday, May 5, 2:00 pm: Minneapolis, Minnesota | Once Upon A Crime
Sunday: May 6, 12:30 p.m.: Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Mystery One
Monday: May 7, 7:30 p.m.: Denver, Colorado | Tattered Cover
Tuesday, May 8, 7:00 p.m.: Scottsdale, Arizona | Poisoned Pen

The Lost Ones Tour, Summer 2012
Thursday, May 31: Oxford, Mississippi | Square Books
Friday, June 1: Birmingham, Alabama | Books-A-Million
Saturday, June 2: Houston, Texas | Murder By The Book
Sunday, June 3: New Orleans, Louisiana | Faulkner House
Tuesday, June 5: Memphis, Tennessee | The Booksellers at Laurelwood
Wednesday, June 6: Austin, Texas | BookPeople
Thursday, June 7: St. Louis, Missouri | Library Event
Friday, June 8: Nashville, Tennessee | Parnassus Books
Saturday, June 9: Montgomery, Alabama | Capitol Book & News
Wednesday, June 13: Jackson, Mississippi | Lemuria
Thursday, June 14: Tampa, Florida | Inkwood
Thursday, June 14: St. Petersburg, Florida | Haslam’s

So, what are your thoughts on characters like Spenser continuing on without the original author? Good idea, if in the right hands? Greedy cash grab? Blasphemy? Personally, I like the idea of having other authors interpret established characters – imagine Neil Gaiman writing a “Dark Tower” novel, or Michael Crichton’s take on James Bond. You still have the originals if that’s all you want, but you can also get different perspectives on your tried-and-true favorites.

What do you think?

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