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Book Review: Attica Locke's The Cutting Season

Cover of Attica Locke's The Cutting Season

Attica Locke's novel, The Cutting Season, was the featured book for the October Literary Road Trip Box. Set in northern Louisiana this twisty murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Caren Gray's family has spent generations working on the Belle Vie plantation. Going back to her ancestors who were slaves on the plantation, to modern times, where her mom worked as a cook. Caren thought she would get out, heading to New Orleans to attend law school, however, when her mom passes, she heads back to Belle Vie. As events manager, Caren oversees the daytime antebellum educational reenactment shows, as well as the corporate events and weddings that take place on the historic grounds.

When the body of a migrant worker is discovered on a neighboring sugar cane field, Caren's employee is arrested for the murder. Caren suspects that he is innocent and uses her law background to uncover the sinister truth.

The Cutting Season is thematically rich, dealing with concepts of power and suppression. The plantation setting brings up current debates over how plantations should be used. It made me think of the recent news of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively having apologized for hosting their wedding at a Plantation. How should these historic places be used in modern times? Belle Vie is used both for education and for private events, as many plantations today are used. In her role as grounds manager, Caren does not disparage the events that are being held, yet she also fights to preserve the plantation's history. It's definitely a hot topic.

Locke has a background in film and television writing. This is clear with her snappy dialogue, character development, and quick pacing. The Cutting Season is a gripping mystery, but it was also chosen for its strong sense of place. This atmospheric novel will have you feeling the Louisiana humidity and smelling the rich cajun cuisine from Belle Vie's kitchen.


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