The Cutting Season

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by Attica Locke

Audio version narrated by Quincy Tyler Bernstine

Caren Gray, a law school dropout and single mother, returns to her childhood home, the Belle Vie plantation in Louisiana’s cane country, after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

When she left Belle Vie for Tulane, she was the daughter of the plantation’s cook. Now she manages the plantation from an office in the main house, overseeing preparations for weddings, corporate meetings and retreats, school tours and other tourist attractions that its current owners, the Clancy family, have on offer.

She’s grateful for the job, even if it does keep her walking a tightrope between the Clancys and the plantation employees she manages. She can even accept the irony of the romanticized history of plantation life and slavery before and after the Civil War presented to tourists at Belle Vie, given her own family’s history as slaves there.

Caren’s great-great-great-grandfather Jason once worked the plantation. He went missing in the 1870s and the powers that were didn’t work too hard to find him.
When the murdered body of a migrant Latina cane worker is discovered buried in a shallow grave on Belle Vie property, life turns upside down. Shortly before her death, she’d found a human bone in the cane field as she worked. The manager, Hunt Abrams, refused to report it to the police. Abrams himself has a history of brutality against his workers. The corporation he works for just moves him to a new site every time Abrams gets into trouble.

The Clancys definitely want the murder wrapped up and forgotten: attorney Raymond Clancy has big plans both for his own future and that of Belle Vie. Controversy won’t do well for either. A newspaper reporter nosing around tells Caren about Abrams’ history. The father of Caren’s daughter, Morgan, wants Morgan to get well away from the plantation and join him and his fiancé in Washington, D.C.

Author Attica Locke

Author Attica Locke’s juxtaposition of historic slavery on the plantation against the migrant and often undocumented workers in the surrounding cane fields is fascinating. Her prose never gets preachy and her message never gets in the way of the story or her complex, likeable characters.

Mystery writer Dennis Lehane said of Attica Locke, “I’d probably read the phone book if her name was on the spine.” I completely agree.

You may also be interested in Locke’s novel BLUEBIRD BLUEBIRD.



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