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Perfect mix of history, crime and really solid writing,
This review is from: The Cutting Season (Hardcover)
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Caren is the manager of Belle Vie, an old sugar cane plantation house, previously harvested by slaves and now a historical tourist attraction complete with dramatic recreations. Caren's family have worked on the plantation for generations, her mother most recently a chef for the family who own it.
Caren had escaped, trying to work as a lawyer in New Orleans, but has found herself drawn back to the old house. Now she lives in the old library with her daughter, running the tourist, and wedding venue business, with a serious and steady hand. Estranged from the father of her child she puts her all into the house and revels in the remote location of the plantation. The only people she sees are the troupe of actors employed on the site, the Clancy family who have owned the house for its entire life, and the workers in the cane fields that surround the estate.
The distance from the general population is one that she has chosen on purpose and the order with which she constructs her life is specifically designed to deal with the problems in her past, and Belle Vie provides just what she needs to do this.
So when she finds the body of a murdered girl, one of the workers from the neighbouring farm, the equilibrium she has carefully created is totally destroyed. The police immediately pick up one of the actors, a young man with a slightly murky past, but Caren quickly realises there's much more to it than meets the eye. And so she begins to investigate and soon finds a story that goes back centuries, encompasses deep south race relations, slavery, greed, political machinations and her own family.
Attica Locke won several awards for her first book Black Water Rising, so expectations for this book were understandably high. And there's no doubt that it's an ambitious book, it clocks in at quite a high page count, it doesn't shy away from contentious issues and there are big topics tackled here. It could have very easily have been heavy handed and preaching, but the skill in her prose and story telling stop that from ever happening and it rattles on at quite a pace. It's always compelling and I found myself not wanting to put it down, which for a crime novel is the highest accolade you can give