4.5 stars. I just can’t keep myself away from mystery books this year. And why would I even want to with fare as good as this? Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season was a really good book and I’m super excited to read her first book because I’ve heard it’s even better.
Caren is a middle-aged black woman raising a young daughter on what used to be a Louisiana sugar plantation called Belle Vie. Her family worked the land for decades and Belle Vie is in her blood. Nowadays the farming land gets worked by companies leasing the land and Caren manages the rest of the property where the big house, library, and slave quarters are. The place manages to attract some tourists and rent itself out of events and weddings. One morning, the body of a Mexican farm worker turns up near the slave quarters dead. No one knows how or why she ended up there, but Caren finds herself drawn into the mystery.
Locke is juggling a lot of narrative threads in this book. There’s the farm worker mystery, a century old mystery involving the death Caren’s ancestor, Caren’s family drama, political/business machinations, and race issues between the hispanic, black, and white people in Louisiana. It’s almost a wonder that she pulls it off, but she does. Everything unfolds naturally and propels the reader forward. Locke is clearly a skilled writer. She makes the lush and semi-creepy Louisiana setting come alive. Her characters are both lovable and flawed. Highly recommend this one if you like mysteries or books seeped in southern culture.