Belle Vie, a perfectly preserved antebellum estate on the banks of the Mississippi, is now a living museum-cum-theme park, a place for educational school trips and a grand setting for weddings. Caren Gray juggles her duties of managing the estate for the Clancy family with her responsibilities as a single parent. When the body of a murdered migrant worker from the adjoining sugar cane plantation is discovered in the Belle Vie grounds, Caren knows that her life is about to become decidedly more difficult.
So. Great. A whodunnit with an interesting backdrop and some Louisiana history of slave ownership thrown in for good measure. But then the author veers off into clumsily handled bits of Caren's back story (why, oh, why does there always have to be a back story?), her slave heritage, dark secrets, corporate greed and the Clancy clan's political ambitions. Before too long, you realise that Attica Locke has not been able to decide on the type of book she wished to write.
Caren comes across as an unsympathetic heroine; the inconsistencies of her character and her odd responses to the murder enquiry also render her unbelievable.
In fairness, this is only Attica Locke's second book and, by all accounts, her debut was very good indeed. Here, I feel that she has been ill-served by her editor/s who really should have guided her towards a more focused approach to the story and a more consistent take on her lead character.