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Cutting Season by Attica Locke
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Cutting Season (edition 2012)

by Attica Locke

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3593230,295 (3.61)27
Member:kblinn
Title:Cutting Season
Authors:Attica Locke
Info:Serpents Tail (2012), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

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Caren Gray and her family have lived and worked on Belle Vie as long as she can recall. Now Caren is managing the sprawling plantation she feels a responsibility to both her staff (Belle Vie is their livelihood) and daughter (Belle Vie being the only home she knows) to keep the place running. The sugar cane plantation next door has always been a concern, but never so much as since the body of a young woman was found on the dividing line between the two properties. As the investigation into the murder continues Caren becomes more and more involved, not only in the police investigation but some of the secrets it uncovers about the plantation and her own family.

Ms. Locke received many accolades for her first book Black Water Rising. I did not read that book so I have no basis for comparison, but in light of all that praise I was a little disappointed in this book. Personally, I felt there was too much going on … was this a murder mystery? Was this a historical look at the old south? Was this a commentary on migrant workers? All of those points make for interesting reading, but combine too many and it just frustrates me as a reader.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
A suspenseful tale of murder old and new on a restored Louisiana plantation. The protagonist, Caren Gray, is general manager and event co-ordinator for Belle Vie, a combination museum/historical site/event venue where her ancestors have served for generations, going back to a man named Jason, who was a slave there at the time of the Emancipation. Modern agribusiness has its eye on Belle Vie, and its future is uncertain. Caren's past is a bit messy, and her future is none too clear either. When an undocumented migrant worker from the adjoining cane fields is found dead just over the fence line on Belle Vie property, life becomes even more complicated for the whole plantation "family". There are just a few too many story lines going on here, the most interesting of which, in my opinion, was given short shrift. But the setting was fascinating, and the pages seemed to turn themselves. A solid three star read that could have been a 4+, if the story had been either tightened up as a pure murder mystery, or expanded to develop the 19th century elements into a true historical novel.
Review written January 19, 2015 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jun 8, 2015 |
A suspense-filled mystery, a tender account of mother-daughter relations, and a “meditation” on how we deal with our personal and societal past—all by an African American woman from Louisiana.

Attica Locke is an exceptional writer rooted in her own Louisiana history. She displayed this in her excellent first mystery, Black Water Rising, set in New Orleans. For her new book, she moved up the Mississippi River to the sugar country just south of Baton Rouge and to a restored plantation steeped in gracious living and almost-forgotten crime.

Caren is an African American single mother, managing the plantation where her family once worked as slaves and where she grew up as the daughter of plantation owner’s cook. She and her nine-year-old daughter live on the plantation, and when a dead body is found there, she begins to fear for their safety.
Read more: http://wp.me/p24OK2-YW
  mdbrady | Jun 20, 2014 |
so boring...........................hmmmmmll............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ( )
  sogamonk | Apr 14, 2014 |
Another library shelf lottery read - because, on a personal tangent, finding new and different books is about the only perk of my job these days. Anyway, I did enjoy this quasi-historical murder mystery, set on a Louisiana plantation in the present day, even if the pacing was a little off. Reading about the Deep South is one of my literary weaknesses, coming from the UK and having only ever visited Florida for a fortnight's holiday. The descriptions of humid heat and thunderstorms, mouth-watering local cuisine and almost tangible aromas ('the cane, like cut grass and sweet milk, damp and terrestrial, the scent of southern Louisiana'), not to mention the history and culture, create a powerful atmosphere that supports the story. Belle Vie, the plantation, is also captivating, more a central character than a location (I was more concerned for the house and grounds than solving the mystery, to be honest).

The plot could have been tighter, I feel. Dipping into Caren's backstory might help get a sense of her life, but since she is only really there to solve the crime, I was impatient to return to the story, whenever the narrative started delving into her relationship with Eric, daughter Morgan, or her late mother. The murder was cleverly handled, though, with a couple of convincing red herrings and a scapegoat. And I'm strangely glad that there wasn't a neat conclusion with regards to Caren and the future of Belle Vie.

An engrossing, evocative mystery, recommended for the scenery alone! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jan 5, 2014 |
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We navigate by stories, but sometimes we only escape by abandoning them.

--Rebecca Solnit
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For Odell & Ophelia
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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 feet from a live oak on the front law, landing like a coil of rope in the lap of the bride's future mother-in-law.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061802050, Hardcover)

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).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:34 -0400)

When the dead body of a young woman is found on the grounds of Belle Vie, the estate's manager, Caren Gray, launches her own investigation into Belle Vie's history, which leads her to a centuries old mystery involving the plantation's slave quarters--and her own past.… (more)

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