Sunday, September 29, 2013
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Everything is changing at Belle Vie, Louisiana. A historical state site, it is a restored plantation and demonstrates life as it was lived in the antebellum South, complete with mansion, slave quarters, and all that went with maintaining the Southern planter's lifestyle. Caren Gray is the manager of Belle Vie and lives there full-time with her daughter. The plantation now has daily shows, and is a popular site for weddings and debutante balls. Caren actually grew up on Belle Vie land. Her mother was the cook for many decades and Caren can trace her relationship with Belle Vie back to her ancestors who lived there as slaves.
But all is changing. A woman's body has been found on the land, and she was murdered. Who killed this woman, a migrant worker who worked for Groveland? Groveland is the large agricultural company that rents the Belle Vie land and grows sugar cane there. There are rumors that the Claney family which has owned Belle Vie since the Civil War are thinking about selling out and closing it down.
Caren gets caught up in the investigation when one of her workers is suspected of the murder. Caren's life is also changing, and she isn't sure what she will be doing in the future. Her daughter's father is back in the picture, and their relationship is uncertain. There are still embers in her former relationship with one of the Clancy brothers. There is also a new man who she meets as she races to solve the murder before someone else is killed.
Attica Locke has written a tense, compelling mystery. The atmosphere is moody and dark, the actions clothed in the mysteries of the past. The changes in the plantation echo the changes Caren is undergoing in her life, and neither will be settled until she reconciles with the past of her family's relationship with the land. This book is recommended for mystery lovers.