Bluebird, Bluebird

by Attica Locke

Bluebird-Bluebird-Attica-LockeIn a story threaded with irony and anomaly, Darren Mathews is the perfect protagonist.  He’s a Princeton-educated, black Texas Ranger raised by twin uncles, William and Clayton Mathews.

William, a Ranger himself, believes the law will protect black people by prosecuting crimes against them as passionately as it prosecutes crimes against white people. Clayton, a defense attorney, believes the law is something that black people need to be protected from.

Darren dropped out of law school at the University of Chicago in 1998 when James Byrd, Jr., was murdered by three white supremacists in Jasper, TX. At the opening of this story, Darren has been called to testify before a grand jury charged with deciding whether a long-time Mathews family friend and employee should go on trial for the murder of a white supremacist.

The friend had called Darren for help when the murdered man started following his granddaughter and then showed up late one night on his property. Darren drove out from Houston and temporarily defused the situation. Darren duly filed an incident report. A few days later the white supremacist turns up murdered.

Darren’s incident report may put his family friend in the path of a murder conviction.The Rangers have put Darren on leave because of his involvement in the case.
When a high school friend, Greg Heglund, now an FBI agent, asks Darren to do some poking around the tiny east Texas town of Lark, where two bodies — a black man and a white woman — have been found in a bayou within days of each other, Darren has the time and the commitment to do so.
He finds a town run by Wallace “Wally” Jefferson, III. Wally’s home, a model of Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, sits directly across the highway from Geneva Sweet’s Sweets, a truck stop on Highway 59 catering mostly to black truckers and locals.
The town sheriff, Parker Van Horn, all but works out of Wally’s house. The dead white woman was found behind Geneva’s place. The dead black man was found behind a beer joint with Aryan Brotherhood leanings owned by Wally.
Darren finds himself in hostile territory where tradition rules, and enemies are united in their distrust of the law and strangers.

Attica Locke has done a masterful job of putting complex, conflicted characters in a pressure cooker that keeps the suspense high. She has an exquisite sense of place and culture. This is a compelling story about a man passionate about protecting the innocent by enforcing the law, who finds that justice is no more blind to issues of race and friendship than those who enforce and uphold it.

In 2019, listed Bluebird, Bluebird among the 10 best crime novels of the last decade, calling it “a modern masterpiece, particularly excels at representing the frought, frictional relationships between race and justices and freedom and oppressive social institutions in America.”

Bluebird, Bluebird was given a 2018 Anthony Award for Best Novel by Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention honoring Anthony Boucher, a distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor and author.This is one of the best books I’ve read all year.

The Author: Attica Locke (1974 – )

Attica Locke is a novelist, scriptwriter and television producer whose work is nominated for award after award. Bluebird, Bluebird was the winner of the 2018 Edgar Award for Best novel.

Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  It was shortlisted for the prestigious Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize.)
Her second and third novels were The Cutting Season (2012), which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and Pleasantville (2015), which was long listed for the 2016 Bailey’s Women’s Prize and won the Harper Lee prize for Legal Fiction.
After graduating from Northwestern University, Locke became a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab in 1999, studying screenwriting and directing. She has written scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, 20th Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO and Dreamworks.  Mostly recently she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama Empire.
A native of Houston, TX, Locke lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.  She is a member of the academy for the Folio Prize in the United Kingdom and a member of the Board of Directors of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  Additionally, she is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.


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