Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lisa C.'s Now A Fan of Attica Locke

In Black Water Rising, Attica Locke delivered one of the most stunning and sure-handed fiction debuts in recent memory, garnering effusive critical praise, several award nominations, and passionate reader response. Now Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a riveting thriller that intertwines two murders separated across more than a century.

Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation that sits between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the past and the present coexist uneasily. The estate's owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction, complete with full-dress re-enactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, a corporation with ambitious plans has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have been growing sugar cane for generations, and now replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property, her throat cut clean.

As the investigation gets under way, the list of suspects grows. But when fresh evidence comes to light and the sheriff's department zeros in on a person of interest, Caren has a bad feeling that the police are chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she ventures into dangerous territory as she unearths startling new facts about a very old mystery--the long-ago disappearance of a former slave--that has unsettling ties to the current murder. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie's history and her own, Caren discovers secrets about both cases--ones that an increasingly desperate killer will stop at nothing to keep buried.

Taut, hauntingly resonant, and beautifully written, The Cutting Season is at once a thoughtful meditation on how America reckons its past with its future, and a high-octane page-turner that unfolds with tremendous skill and vision. With her rare gift for depicting human nature in all its complexities, Attica Locke demonstrates once again that she is "destined for literary stardom" (Dallas Morning News).

Read the essay "The Cutting Season--Behind The Book" HERE.

Lisa C. says:
"This was my first time reading Attica Locke's work and I thoroughly enjoyed The Cutting Season. Her first novel was Blackwater Rising which was shortlisted for the Orange and Edgar in 2010. Locke is a gifted writer - just ask Dennis Lehane. The Cutting Season is the first book under the HarperCollins Dennis Lehane Books imprint. Lehane is right.

Locke's sense of history, place, murder and mystery work together in this novel. It is set in present time Louisiana at the plantation Belle Vie - now a tourist attraction managed by Caren Gray. The owners have kept all the buildings as they once were, including the slave quarters, and they employ local people to dress up and play parts of those who once lived on the plantation.

Caren Gray's personal history is connected to the place and it is this thread that connects the two time periods beautifully. When a body of a murdered migrant worker is found on the plantation - readers see that perhaps the past isn't that long gone.

Gray finds she must come to terms with the situation, her personal relationships, including one with her precocious daughter. Locke's characters are flawed and believable. It is easy to see why her work gained praise and Lehane's attention. I found myself liking Caren but also shaking my head at her reticence when it fails to serve her. She's real. There are no easy answers or fixes in life or in this novel. It is a page-turner, and easy to see that Attica Locke has a bright future. Now I can't wait for her next one!"

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