The Cutting Season

Monday, April 3, 2017


The Cutting Season
Attica Locke, 2012

Premise: Caren grew up at Belle Vie as generations before her did, and now she lives on the plantation with her daughter, managing the historical reenactments and booking weekend weddings. When a woman is found dead on the grounds, she is horrified, but not prepared for the ramifications for her family, past and present.

This is a solid mystery-thriller made special by context. The plot takes place in the present, but Caren's life is intimately affected by her family's history with the land. Her ancestors were slaves and then freedmen working the same land she now manages. One disappeared, possibly murdered, in the same fields where a woman is now found dead.

Caren is the central character by a large margin, but her daughter, her ex-boyfriend and all the actors and staff at the plantation are each interesting and unique. Her past with the facility and the family that owns it both supports her career and traps her in the past. She both loves her home and is troubled by the history.

The past and the present are connected in a poetic and tragic way in this book, although I could have used even more. Caren understands the ways that her ancestors who cut sugarcane are connected to the Latino migrants doing the same job today.

It's an engaging story with strong characterization and a vibrant setting.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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