Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke: Review

Locke gave a beautifully written story with vivid descriptions that allowed me to easily visualize the setting. The plot is interesting and the setting is beautifully presented in The Cutting Season. For me this was a story where the setting and plot outshone the development of the characters. I had some trouble understanding Caren's actions at times and I would have liked to have had more details and motivation for some of the other characters. There were also some slower moments, but they didn't keep me from enjoying the story.

 The past has a direct influence on the present in The Cutting Season in a way that is unique to stories set in the south. Locke took full advantage of the unique history as well as the present social and economic challenges surrounding the upkeep and sustainability of former plantations in modern times. The parallels between slaves and current migrant workers, as well as the painful relationship of African Americans and their links to slaves who were once bound to these places are gripping points of tension as well.  My favorite passage of the book actually happened within the first few pages: "Still, she took that as a sign. A reminder, really, that Belle Vie, it's beauty, was not to be trusted. That beneath the loamy topsoil, the manicured grounds and gardens, two centuries of breathtaking wealth and spectacle, lay a land both black and bitter, soft to the touch, but pressing in its power. She should have known that one day it would spit out what it no longer had use for, the secrets it would no longer keep." How could you not want to keep reading after being given that right off the bat?

If you are looking for an interesting thriller set in the south, that is rich in history and conflict, I would definitely recommend picking up The Cutting Season. It's going on my favorite reads list.


The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar cane fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.

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