After more than a year of online and virtual events, Square Books will host a fully open book signing for local author Ace Atkins at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 12 at the Old Armory Pavilion on University Avenue.
The event – called ‘Tibbehah County Picnic’ – will launch New York Times bestselling author Atkins’ latest book, ‘The Heathens’, which is the 11th installment in his popular Quinn Colson series. .
Tibbehah County is the fictional setting for the series about an Army Ranger who returns to his hometown in rural northeastern Mississippi, only to find he has been caught up in crime and corruption. Last summer, development began on an HBO TV series based on the books.
Atkins will be in conversation with Emmy Award-winning Jack Pendarvis, who has become a tradition for his local book launches, as well as live music from Tate Moore of the Kudzu Kings.
Taylor Grocery Catering will be on-site, offering some of the best hot catfish on the planet. Plus, craft cocktails by Hospitality Bruhs and cold treats by Oxsicles.
Hosts urge participants to bring their own chairs, as no seats will be provided.
The picnic may further blur the lines between fiction and reality in Tibbehah County, but “it will truly be a Lafayette County event” and a “community event,” said Lyn Roberts, managing director of Square Books.
“Ace is not only a good writer, but he is a great citizen of Oxford,” said Roberts.
Square Books hosted what they called a hybrid reading last month at its usual location, the Off Square Books partner store, but with occupancy limitations.
The Atkins offsite launch is Square Books’ first full-capacity event since the start of the pandemic. However, according to Roberts, some will remain virtual until the fall. “It will be a case-by-case affair,” she said.
Atkins acknowledging that the book series continues with renewed enthusiasm
Beneficial for readers of any series with many installments, Atkins allows them to get started anywhere along the way – especially those lucky enough to know the northern Mississippi or the greater Memphis area.
Such mentions of Payne’s Bar-B-Que, or of a Waffle House near Highway 78 – or even of “Live at 9” with Alex and Marybeth on TV – in “The Heathens”, as in the books precedents, can quickly Southerner in the flow of history.
The comedic and often dramatic excitement in Atkins’ grainy storytelling is self-contained, just like every novel. In addition, the author always provides the necessary backstory if needed.
Fans of the series may recall the disappearance of Queen Fannie Hathcock in the previous book, “The Revelators,” at the hands of the friend and longtime partner of the Tibbehah County Sheriff, the US Marshal. Lillie Virgil.
Johnny Stagg, the cherry red cannon driving a Cadillac El Dorado around town, who had just been in jail for several years, is back pulling the strings behind sordid local affairs. He has new ambitions to convert what used to be Hathcock’s lair near Highway 45 – once popular with a legion of truckers – into a family fun center.
A group of children, led by underprivileged 17-year-old TJ Byrd, are on the run from law enforcement due to their alleged connection to the gruesome murder of Byrd’s mother, who has an unsavory reputation in Tibbehah, and a background with Virgil.
According to Atkins, the story is loosely based on an investigation and trial he covered as a young reporter for the Tampa Bay Tribune in the late ’90s.
Colson’s good detective work, along with that of his former deputy Virgil, mingled with clumsiness and missteps on the part of the parties involved, gradually sheds light on the truth surrounding the circumstances.
This pinball machine should appease the appetites of followers of the series, who eagerly await Atkins’ nearly annual installments – or just general fans of the crime-fiction genre.
Regarding the Monday event at the Old Armory Pavilion, Atkins said, “We are doing this not only to launch ‘The Heathens’, but also to celebrate the return of book events for one of the best bookstores in the country. . Sometimes we forget what special place we live in.