3.5 stars. Attica Locke is simply the best. I really wish I hadn’t read The Cutting Season first though. It’s always hard evaluating an author’s other work fairly when you know they’re capable of the absolute best. If a book is better than most, but not quite living up to their best work, how do you rate that? My gut response is to rate a sense of disappointment. Taking a few weeks to write this review, I’ve come around to appreciating this book for what it was: a really solid mystery.
Darren Matthews is one of the few black Texas Rangers and he’s recently been put on leave due to a case where he very possibly didn’t put his job over his personal allegiances. Struggling in his marriage and bored not being on duty, he travels to small town Texas where there have recently been two murders, possibly connected. One was a black lawyer from Chicago and the other was a local white woman. Unsurprisingly, the local law enforcement is taking the white woman’s murder more seriously and the local black community is not happy. Most aren’t happy that Matthews is poking around either. He’s looking for truth, but the truth is guaranteed to make a few people more upset.
It looks like this is the start to a series and that would maybe explain why the book feels a little underdeveloped. I kept wanting more, more, more from the plot and characters. Locke is capable of writing amazing plots, deft social commentary, racial/class tensions, and unforgettable characters. Bluebird, Bluebird was almost there, but not quite. I really hope this was just an introduction to the character of Matthews and that her next book in the series will dig deeper.