I’ll preface this review with – I am from North Texas, not East Texas. I’m from big city Texas, not small town Texas. The Texas in this book is not directly the Texas I grew up in, but it is a Texas I recognize. For such a big state, it sure can be small.
Also, for reference, the hate crime dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., was only 20 years ago. Feels like it should be a lot longer, but it most definitely is not.
Publishers would market Bluebird, Bluebird as a murder mystery thriller but this is really a novel about the horrifying timelessness of racism and how deeply its roots are sunk. The book is at its strongest when it delves into this and bares its awful face. Some of the murder mystery elements almost drag it down. Overall, it is extraordinarily well put together. And I don’t like murder mysteries because I don’t like not knowing, so that’s just a me problem.
Bluebird, Bluebird is the story of Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, temporarily suspended for something that reeks strongly of bullshit and wrestling with his own personal demons when a buddy in the FBI tips him off on a pair of homicides. They aren’t in his home town, but they sure are close, and while the death of the white woman is being investigated, the death of the black man is being quickly written off as an accident. Black men and women in America get no justice at either end, but Ranger Matthews arrives on the scene to maybe do right by this one person.
It’s good. It’s tightly written and it hurts in places to read. As much as we hope for a better future, we cannot turn our backs on our past and our present.