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Book Review – The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Synopsis:  The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it’s something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn’t know. As she’s drawn into the dead girl’s story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.

A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Season brings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising.

First Line:  It was during the Thompson-Delacroix wedding, Caren’s first week on the job, that a cottonmouth, measuring the length of a Cadillac, fell some twenty feel from a live oak on the front lawn, landing like a coil of rope in the lap of the bride’s future mother-in-law.

Random Quote:  Her first thought was the river.  But there was, of course, the issue of weight, of how to keep the thing from merely skimming the surface of the water and floating aong in plain view.

Review:  I was very excited to get a review copy of The Cutting Season for two reasons.  First, I loved her first novel, Black Water Rising – there are images from that book still banging about in my head.  Second, it’s the first novel published under Dennis Lehane‘s imprint for Harper Collins and I think Lehane’s a rock star.  He made a great choice of first book and first author to promote.

The Cutting Season tells the story of Caren, an independent woman who seems stuck – drawn back to the place where she grew up, settled into the pattern of who she used to be and who she is expected to be.  As the manager of a historic plantation, her job involves what you might imagine, but also something you might  not – the production of a pro-slavery play written by a doyenne of the plantation’s history.


The play and events surrounding it really heat things up and create a mystery that allows the author to meditate on race relations then and now, the nature of relationships, and on getting unstuck.  Expect to stay up late reading just one more chapter and to be given imagery and history that will cause you to think about how much we’ve whitewashed in our history.  Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy from publisher for review

Publishing Information:  September 18 – HarperCollins

Format:  Hardback

Published inBooks

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