Friday, December 21, 2012

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

In The Cutting Season, Caren Gray is the manager of Belle Vie, a pre-war plantation turned tourist attraction. Like all of the land around it, the plantation is in danger of being bought out and dismantled by the neighbouring farm/conglomerate. When the body of a female migrant worker is found in buried on the property and the police turn their attention to a young man on staff, Caren suspects that they are heading in the wrong direction. She decides to do some investigating herself and discovers that this present day murder is somehow connected to the long ago murder of her great-great-great-grandfather, a slave who worked on the plantation.

I loved this book. It contains an incredible story of one woman's mission to get to the truth, while reconciling the past, finding her way in the present and setting her path for the future. The mystery was so interesting, gripping, and suspenseful that I didn't want to put the book down.

The story takes place mostly in the present, but it does have little forays into the near past and distant past. I just love the way Locke expertly combines the present with the past events. The transitions between the two flawless. I also loved how she brought in the background information on the present day characters.

I found the whole story fascinating, especially the parts about the working plantation and the lives of the slaves who worked on it. I've read a few fictional books about slaves and their struggles, but that period in history still isn't that familiar to me. I'm going to have to make a point of reading more books set before the American civil war.

I really enjoyed reading about all of the characters, especially Caren. I really liked and admired her for raising her daughter, Morgan, on her own and for being a strong woman. I didn't quite understand her ex, Eric, though. The same goes for their relationship. That part of the story didn't draw me in as much as the mystery did.

New words:
apologist (page 12): defender
antebellum (page 20): before the Civil War
haints (page 333): ghost (Southern US)
magniloquent (page 341): using important-sounding words
obsequiousness (used with previous word on page 341): sweet talk

I loved the endpapers that feature a map of the Belle Vie grounds. There's an antique feel to it that was just perfect for this story. Besides being beautiful to look at (I love maps!), they helped me see where everything on the plantation was situated. I was able to follow and understand the story better.

I've also read Locke's other book, Blackwater Rising (my review). While I enjoyed it, I liked this one a lot more. That's probably because I found this story more interesting and accessible. I could see myself visiting Belle Vie, enjoying the grounds and learning more about the history of the place.

Highly recommended. I hope to read many more books by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author and her other book, please visit Attica Locke's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke, HarperCollins ©2012. ISBN 9780061802058(Hardcover), 372p.

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