The Cutting Season
The Cutting Season
HarperTorch, Hardcover, 9780061802058, 374pp.
Publication Date: September 2012
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).
“The impressively astute Attica Locke writes . . . in much the same way that Mr. Lehane [does]. . . . Each is willing to use the murder mystery as a framework for much more ambitious, atmospheric fiction.”
-New York Times
“Compelling. . . . A mystery that expands the whole idea of the mystery, reaching from the present deeply into the past. . . . Great writing, the kind that gives you goose bumps.”
-Los Angeles Times
“One of the most engaging and gifted new voices in the genre. . . . The Cutting Season does more than exhume a body—it rattles the bones of slavery, race, class, and power to examine a crime that reverberates from more than a century ago.”
“Although The Cutting Season succeeds as a thriller, above all it is a well-crafted warning about the damage wrought—generational, social, romantic—when the past is distorted or denied.”
“A thoughtful, well-written and absorbing read with a surprising ending.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I was first struck by Attica Locke’s prose, then by the ingenuity of her narrative and finally and most deeply by the depth of her humanity. She writes with equal amounts grace and passion. . . . I’d probably read the phone book if her name was on the spine.”
“The Cutting Season is a rare murder mystery with heft, a historical novel that thrills, a page-turner that makes you think. Attica Locke is a dazzling writer with a conscience.”
-Dolen Perkins-Valdez, New York Times bestselling author of Wench
“The Cutting Season is a novel about the shifting definitions of family, the persistent pull of history, the sterling promise of home, and the stunning power of love. It pulled me in and held me close to the very last page.”
-Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow
She was a struggling screenwriter before hitting it big with her books, including The Cutting Season. Locke talks with NPR's Michel Martin about the inspiration for her thrillers, and how she straddles the past and present of African-American life in her writing. More at NPR.org
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