THE CUTTING SEASON
WINNER OF THE ERNEST GAINES AWARD FOR LITERARY EXCELLENCE
Caren Gray is the general manager of Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation 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 reenactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, an ambitious corporation has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have grown sugar cane for generations, 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. The list of suspects is long, but when the cops zero in on a person of interest, Caren has a feeling they’re chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she unearths startling new facts about an old mystery—the long-ago disappearance of a former slave—that has unsettling ties to the modern-day crime. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie’s history—and her own—Caren discovers secrets about both cases that an increasingly desperate killer will do anything to keep hidden.
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, demonstrating once again that Locke is “a writer wise beyond her years” (Los Angeles Times).
PRAISE & REVIEWS
“Locke writes with equal amounts grace and passion… I’d probably read the phone book if her name were on the spine.”
“The impressively astute Attica Locke… writes about Southern racial and class nuances in much the same way that Mr. Lehane sees those forces at work in Boston… each is willing to use the murder mystery as a framework for much more ambitious, atmospheric fiction… A leisurely and luxuriantly Southern book that is rich with detail.”
—New York Times
“With this novel Locke has opened up not just her writing but also the parameters of the form… It is a mystery that expands the whole idea of the mystery, reaching from the present deeply into the past… [Locke] invests the book with gravitas, a sense of place and consequence, that feels profound and real.”
—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.”
“[A] haunting mystery, where the murder of a migrant worker brings past and present into hair’s-breadth proximity.”
“More than a whodunit. While keeping the pace of a thriller, Locke blends Louisiana’s past with its present, tackling race, self-identity, and corporate corruption. Locke’s prose revels in the sumptuous Louisiana landscape.”
“A layered, nuanced mystery with a social conscience. Weaving legal, social, historical, and economic elements into the story of a changing family, it’s a good choice for readers who enjoy multifaceted mysteries.”
—Library Journal, a Best Mystery of 2012