Tuesday, 6 November 2012
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Crime is not a genre I read very often but I had heard good things about Attica Locke. In fact, I own her previous novel, Black Water Rising, although typically I haven't got around to reading it yet. I'd seen some positive reviews of Cutting Season on other blogs and the setting of the book really appealed. On our American honeymoon last summer, my husband and I spent a few weeks in Louisiana and we visited lots of those old plantation homes and there is something about the history and atmosphere of such places that I thought would make for a great crime story. And that atmosphere was conveyed excellently in the book by Locke, it had an almost gothic, sinister feel which helped build suspense throughout.
On the whole, I enjoyed Cutting Season. It's expertly written and ambitious in coverage. The topics of race and slavery are handled sensitively and the book is thought provoking - who should really own the plantation houses? Should they be preserved for history or should we wipe the slate clean and start again? Does history belong to all of us or just a select few? Should history affect modern day decisions? Although I'm not a big fan of crime fiction, I could see that the mystery of who had killed Ines was well structured with enough red herrings to keep me guessing. I didn't work out who it was before the big reveal.
Despite everything I enjoyed about the book, it just seemed to be missing that special something. I don't know if it was purely because I don't love crime, but the middle section lagged and I never felt fully engaged with the story. In some ways, I think Locke was too ambitious and couldn't do everything she wanted to do within the confines of a crime/mystery novel; the genre was too restrictive for all the themes she wanted to cover. Locke was experimental by adding so much more to the genre but too confined by the conventions of the genre. I would have liked to see more of a gothic literary style novel rather than a traditional whodunit.
I'm sure crime fans will love this book as it's a good mystery and the writing is excellent. I wasn't the biggest fan of this one but I don't think I was the right reader for it.
Source: Library (reserved)
First Published: 2012
My Edition: Serpent's Tail UK, 2012
Score: 3.5 out of 5
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I don't often read crime either, but I'm excited about this one. I love books that can deal with questions of race and history in a way that doesn't feel preachy or awkward, and Attica Locke seems good at that.ReplyDelete
I think you'll enjoy it then, there was nothing preachy about the way race was handled at all. Happy reading!Delete
I like mystery and crime so this may be up my street. thanks for the review.ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy it :)Delete
I heard a radio interview with Attica Locke and was convinced to download this book for my Nook. I'm looking forward to reading it. The interview really piqued my interest--I hope the book lives up to my expectations.ReplyDelete
I bet the interview was interesting as the book was very subtly written. Happy reading!Delete
Hmm I know what you mean. Crime isn't really my thing either but if the writing is engaging and well paced then I'm all in.ReplyDelete
That's my criteria to read any book - shame there aren't more books out there that meet both!Delete
Thanks for this review...I have this on my shelf. It is what I like to read.ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy it, look forward to your thoughts on it :)Delete
I do enjoy a good crime novel and will probably read this at some point but I know what you mean about lacking something because I felt the same about AL's first book.ReplyDelete
It's a shame that you felt that about Black Water Rising. I think I will still try it, as her writing was very good, but perhaps with lowered expectations.Delete
Thanks for a great review, Sam. I had heard about this one a few times and I find the idea of owning history really interesting. I may give this one a chance, although I don't read a ton of crime myself.ReplyDelete
It was the idea of owning history that made me pick this book up in the first place. Hope you enjoy it Lindsey.Delete
Sorry that this one didn't work out. I like crime novels and this might appeal to me, who knows.ReplyDelete
I think someone who enjoys crime novels would definitely enjoy this book, probably more than I did.Delete
I don't read many crime/mystery novels. I did read this one since I'd seen a few good reviews. I liked it fine, it didn't knock my socks off but it was a good read :)ReplyDelete
Seems like we had a similar reaction then!Delete