The Cutting Season

Attica Locke

The Cutting Season

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 can 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. 3.8 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
The Cutting Season

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction, Crime, Thrillers & Mystery
Format Hardcover
Pages 352
RRP
Date of Publication September 2012
ISBN 978-1846689123
Publisher Serpent's Tail
 

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 can 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.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Reviews

The Guardian

Val McDermid

It's a novel rich in atmosphere, strong in story, but at its heart The Cutting Season hinges on human complexity. The tangled rope of some kind of history has a stranglehold on everyone at the heart of this book, and their relationships give it a texture that reminds us why we come to fiction rather than the historical account … The Cutting Season does what the best crime fiction is can do: it illuminates our present in the light of our past and explains us to ourselves. On this evidence, Attica Locke is more than capable of that. And also of leaving us on the edge of our seats, hearts in our mouths.

28/09/2012

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The Economist

Lucy Farmer

The Cutting Season is more than a whodunit. While keeping the pace of a thriller, Ms Locke blends Louisiana’s past with its present, tackling race, self-identity and corporate corruption. Ms Locke’s prose revels in the sumptuous Louisiana landscape but also swoops and jumps as the story unravels. Caren is a strong, black heroine trying to reconcile her past with life in a biting contemporary world.

21/09/2012

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The Financial Times

Maria Crawford

The author’s screenwriting background is evident here, from three-dimensional portrayals of even the most marginal characters to a brilliantly cinematic dream sequence. This is crime fiction in the round, with hints of personal stories given as much narrative weight as clues to the killer. By the time the plot reaches full-bodied tension there is more to resolve than one murder mystery; Belle Vie’s tangled history of family, politics and ownership is finally set to unravel.

28/09/2012

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The Observer

Alison Flood

Soaked in atmosphere, in the wet, drunk air of the south where "the cane, like cut grass and sweet milk, damp and terrestrial" pervades everything, the past lies in layers upon layers in this story. Locke was shortlisted for the Orange prize for her debut thriller, Black Water Rising. This is even better.

30/09/2012

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The Times

Marcel Berlins

The police’s investigation, tinged with racism, raises issues of corruption, political chicanery and the treatment of workers. There is evidence linking current events with the plantation’s slave past. Locke handles Caren’s relationship with her daughter with convincing sensitivity, and beautifully conveys the atmosphere of a sad past haunting a benighted present.

15/09/2012

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The New York Times

Marilyn Stasio

For a character so smart and so appealing, Caren is astonishingly dense about a lot of things that are going on behind her back. Even more astounding is her disinclination to follow up on the shocking revelations that bring the mystery to a close. But if the schematic plot and dangling resolution speak badly for Locke’s construction values, the language of her storytelling is sturdy and absorbing.

05/10/2012

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The Independent

John Williams

The Cutting Season is not entirely successful: there are moments at which one senses that Locke is chafing against the relentless plot demands of the crime novel. She is, on the whole, happier with the domestic dramas, particularly those between Caren and her daughter, than with the action scenes. Nevertheless, this is a highly engrossing and genuinely thought-provoking piece of crime fiction: one that reminds us of the genre's potential to go well beyond simple entertainment.

29/09/2012

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The New York Times

Janet Maslin

Ms. Locke has all the necessary elements for a resonant story about a seemingly modern woman who is forced to come to terms with the long-buried past. And she has a strong heroine, even though Caren is oddly passive even when she aggressively tries to uncover Belle Vie’s secrets. She typically “watched in disbelief” as each new strange fact emerged, and she would get nowhere without the magical reappearance of Eric, Morgan’s father, who is conveniently well versed in the law. In a leisurely and luxuriantly Southern book that is rich with detail, the sketchy, forced denouement, drawing many neat parallels between past and present, jumps out of nowhere.

05/09/2012

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