Attica Locke artfully weaves the past and the present in the novel The Cutting Season, which was released this week in paperback. Locke bravely sheds light onto the dark corners of our nation’s past and ongoing prejudices. While The Cutting Season is a fictional novel, Locke folds these issues into a lush and beautifully written novel of murder, racism and family.
Caren Gray manages Louisiana’s stately Belle Vie, an antebellum plantation-turned-tourist attraction where the past and the present coexist uneasily. Outside the gates, an ambitious corporation snaps up sugarcane fields from struggling families, replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the plantation property, her throat cut clean through.
As the sheriff’s department zeroes in on a suspect, Caren suspects the police are chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she unearths startling secrets about the long-ago disappearance of a former slave that has unsettling ties to the current murder—secrets that a desperate killer will stop at nothing to keep buried.
Locke drew me in immediately and the path she takes you down to find the suspect is winding. This is a true whodunit and Locke skillfully weaves two separate narratives together to a climatic end. While the mysteries are intriguing, it was Locke’s exploration of race, politics, business and history, that truly drew me in. The parallels between the abolition of slavery and the current plight of migrant workers will certainly provide a reader with much needed food for thought.
Locke’s prose are wonderfully rich and atmospheric and brought her settings to life. The South and the complicated emotions those words connote come alive in this engrossing tale whose characters and way of life come to true life. This tales not hard to believe and neither is Bel Vie. I highly recommend that you pick up The Cutting Season.
Attica Locke’s first novel, Black Water Rising, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in the UK in 2010. It was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Strand Magazine Critics Award. The novel was also a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. In addition, Attica has spent many years working as a screenwriter, penning movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, and Dreamworks. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is a member of the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.
This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I received a copy of the book in return for an honest review, which you can read above. Want to know what others have to say about The Cutting Season? Stop by another blog on the tour!