I picked this book up as it sounded like it would be an interesting read and I like murder mysteries. I had never read any of Attica Locke’s work before but after reading this book I can say she is a great writer and her use of description creates an atmospheric story.
The Cutting Season is based in the modern day in a plantation in Louisiana called Belle Vie. The plantation has been preserved as a historical tourist attraction and Caren is the manager. Whilst the story is a murder mystery, Attica has woven in historical aspects of plantation and slave history. Doing this we don’t forget what plantations really were like but it is subtly and sensitively done. The characters in the story are all connected to the plantation in one way or another. For example, Caren is descended from a salve on the plantation and while trying to find out the killer she finds out more about her ancestor too.
The murder mystery is gripping – beside the plantation illegal immigrants are poorly paid to cut sugar cane for a ruthless land manager and corporate sugar company. Some similarities can be drawn from the old slave days to how the sugar cane cutters are treated, work and live. Rumours are rife of abuse and then one girl is found dead. So many suspects! But who did it – was it Donavan who wants to depict what life was like for slaves, or the land manager or someone else!! As the story unfolds we get to know the characters more, how the plantation is like a family for its works and the complicated life of Caren’s past and struggles as a single mother too. With the help of a journalist the mystery is solved but there are so many twists and turns that we are still left puzzling over who did it to the end and why.
I definitely recommend reading this book and I will be picking up Attica’s next novel when it comes out. This book is a murder mystery with some history thrown in but overall a gripping story is created. We are also left pondering over the question – should plantations be preserved as tourist sites to remember and teach history?
Have you read this book? What did you think?