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 pause resister 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).
©2012 Attica Locke (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
After enjoying Attica Locke's first novel, Black Water Rising, I expected another fast-paced, tense, and action-filled story. The Cutting Season was a disappointment in all three areas. Aside from the finding of a body in a shallow grave, everything else in the first 3/4 of the book seemed like background or side-story. Very little happened to advance the plot.
As I started to listen, I groaned aloud at the narrator's voice. She sounded like a cranky child. But within a few minutes I got used to her, and appreciated her clear diction and the appropriate emotional content of her reading. Quincy Tyler Bernstine's narration actually improved the story.
A romantic scene seemed to be added for no purpose at all; it gave little insight into the characters beyond making me like them a bit less for their questionable encounter. As with much of the text, it had nothing to do with the plot.
I have already recommended Black Water Rising to many friends, and will continue to do so, but I've also started adding "but avoid Locke's second book."
I’d Recommend to: Nola Céspedes (Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water), Lavinia (Kathleen Grissom’s The Kitchen House)
I was more than a little disappointed with The Cutting Season. The description sounded like something I would love, and I really enjoyed The Kitchen House last year; I was expecting something a little more in that vein. The “secrets of its [Belle Vie's] past” seemed secondary to the mystery. The focal point was certainly on the murder, but I was hoping for more of a focus on a past historical mystery. It seemed to take a backseat and arose only when it would “dramatically” relate to current events. If it were going to be a subtle thread, I wished it had been used in a more delicate, less heavy-handed anvil of a way.
My other concern with the book was that Caren was just unlikeable. She came across as highly intelligent but completely selfish and socially inept. I’m sure this is my own interpretation of her and her choices, and I’m sure others read her as being complex instead. This is no fault of the narrator, who did an excellent reading to help build tension. The scenes in which Caren traverses Belle Vie are some of the most tense, even in daylight.
I enjoyed the overall sense of mystery, and Locke is a talented author – but personally, there were elements with which I did not connect.
The Bottom Line:
I could certainly see readers enjoying The Cutting Season, I just wasn’t one of them.
Don't know. Seemed to move slowly and never finished it.
This book was hard to stick with. Difficult to listen to the the narrator, so monotone and uninteresting. Also, things were introduced but then the back stories would take you in an entirely different direction. Maybe the author's intent but not enough there to keep one's interest.
The Cutting Season is one that I will listen to it again.
The past that comes to the future.
The inflections and tones add to the depth of feeling
I would listen again and have recommended the book to friends. This is a fresh take on the mystery. You are never quite sure where you are being lead. Love the protagonist - very real, not a cookie cutter hero by any means.
Oh my yes, it also convinced me to take the long way home.
I was able to download the novel on my phone and listen to it while at work and in the car.
Absolutely! Ms. Locke's words painted vivid pictures that I could see.
There were so many, I can't pick just one.
No. I really enjoyed listening to it while I worked.
I cannot wait for the movie verison of this book to be made!
This is a great "who done it" by a relatively unknown author. The Cutting Season was so good I'm already reading Black Water Rising by the same author.
An avid listener of Audible whether I'm driving, cleaning or cooking. My children are frequently telling me to remove my earbuds!
Enjoyed the Gothic feeling of the plantation and the spooky feeling I got in the pit of my stomach every time Caren had to race across the plantation in the dark. I thought Quincy Tyler Bernstine did a good job with the narration, especially Caren's internal dialogue. Might have wished for a better outcome for Caren and Eric, but then it would be a romance novel. It's well worth a listening.
Historical, slight suspenseful, Based in South
The historical aspect of the Pre-Civil war house, how buildings on plantation were set up. Mindset of writing from slave perspective, strong female main character. I'm glad I used a credit on the book instead of buying it out of cycle.
Too much feedback on some of the words spoken
The cook because she had the whole life story of the house and it's deep secrets since she was old and lived there all her life
I expected the book to be better based on other comments. It was not very suspenseful which book was advertised as, certainly not a top suspense writer like Rollins, Patterson, Coulter etc.
I have read another book by Attica Locke,and it enjoyed it immensely. However, I must say that the narrator greatly enhanced my appreciation of this novel.
The setting -- a southern plantation; and the suspenseful mix of past and present crimes, with a hint of class warfare.
Pace of speech, accents.
A Gothic tale of the new/old South.
I never did get the main character's affection for that old plantation. It just seemed like a dreadful place and I thought that it was bizarre for her to think that it was a fit place for a child.
This is not a book that will gain fans for old Dixie -- not that I was ever one!
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