Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dispatch from the Field: Joe says this is "a most excellent book!"

"Caren Gray runs the Belle Vie Plantation. The year is 2008, and the historic site is now a museum and event facility. Caren grew up on the plantation, and tried to move away, but in the aftermath of Katrina, found herself facing down her past. Caren's family has worked on this plantation since before the Civil War, before the Clancy family bought Belle Vie during Reconstruction, and the relationship between the two families remains complex.

When the body of a migrant worker is found on the plantation grounds, the law focuses on one of the plantation's workers, a young black man named Donovan. Caren believes Donovan is innocent, but the law is against him, especially when he's got Raymond Clancy working hard to get the whole thing swept away so he can sell the plantation to the corporation that employed the murdered woman.

Complicated? Yes, deliciously so. And in The Cutting Season, Attica Locke deftly handles these plotlines (and more!). Not only does the case against Donovan get tighter as the book progresses, but Caren really starts exploring the story of Jason, a freed slave who returned to Belle Vie after the Civil War. Jason is an ancestor of Caren, and in a parallel to 2008, appears to have been murdered, possibly by the first Clancy to own the plantation. As the plotlines weave ever tighter, the lines between the past and present blur and blend. It's the kind of book that I'm reluctant to put down when my lunch hour ends, the kind of book I think about in the afternoon, longing to get back to the story. Locke captures the steamy air of Louisiana, replete with a complex history that nobody can simply walk away from.

The Cutting Season is a great thriller told in such a lush way, I felt like I was watching it unfold on screen. A most excellent book!"


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