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The Cutting Season

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  4,604 ratings  ·  831 reviews
The American South in the twenty-first century. 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 sug...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Harper (first published January 1st 2012)
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jo
Feb 05, 2013 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: linda, mike, simon, jen, rebecca, everyone in LFPC
people will tell you this is like pelecanos and people will tell you this is like lahane. but this is like neither. this is unique and so its own work of art, you want to beg everyone everywhere to read it.

as i said in my updates, this book feels canonical to me, in the way in which Toni Morrison's Beloved is canonical, and Percival Everett's Erasure is canonical. also Edward P. Jones's The Known World. you can add your own books to this list. there are some works of literature that recast a fr...more
Kerry
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It had all the elements I love in a good mystery: an interesting and well rendered setting; a varied cast of characters; the "today's mystery brings a mystery from the past to light" plot device that I always enjoy when it is well conceived (as it is here); and a strong woman at the center of it all. I like the writing and thought the book was well crafted. But I still somehow never quite connected with it - never fell into it or reached that de...more
Book Him Danno
Imagine you were just beginning a game of Clue and I said to you “Hey, it was either Mr. Green with Revolver in the Library, or Miss Scarlett with the Lead Pipe in the Kitchen, or Colonel Mustard with the Rope in the Ballroom.” Then I let you wander around aimlessly the whole game before apropos of nothing I said it was the last choice. Now let’s finish the game. That is the frustration I felt with this book.

It seems the author wanted to write a great novel of modern race relations but felt com...more
Robert
If you prefer prose that peppers your nose and wows you with wonder and awe, then you might find yourself having a grand time while reading about the Deep South, where the tea is always sweet, an afternoon rain happens daily, and the humidity is so thick you have to keep your head down and plow forward through the mist. With the opening line I was caught in time and found myself veering ahead with what might have been excitement mixed with hope. But alas she was a fairer lass than Kim Kardashian...more
Roy
I love a good mystery. I was intrigued by the mystery within a mystery concept of this book. I may have liked it even more if the narrative went back and forth following the two connected storylines, alternating between the present and slave days, only not via time travel the way Octavia Butler wonderfully did it in Kindred. The fact that Attica Locke sticks to a single setting is by no means a flaw, and like Octavia, Attica is also an excellent writer. That said, I can't say that I was blown aw...more
Sara
There is so much about this book that is good: an interesting setting of historical significance, two mysteries - one contemporary and the other from the past - family drama, star-crossed love, racial, cultural and societal tensions. It is unfortunate that these strong elements don't seem to come together to make a compelling read.

I found the pace was extremely slow-going - I think that was probably intentional in order to create a mood that is at once contemplative and sinister - but the overa...more
Joe
I just love reading reviews on this site. People just love everything and love telling the plot. Every book is good and every author is a good writer. And I think I will add that(almost) every reviewer (reader) is delusional and has little idea of what makes a good book.
In the case of Attica Locke, she is indeed a good writer. Black Water Rising, her debut novel, was a much better read with a layered and engrossing plot. This one is a standard mystery complete with obvious red herrings and a qui...more
Ann Woodbury Moore
This novel is set in Louisiana, at Belle Vie, a former plantation that's now a historical site and tourist attraction. When a migrant worker is found murdered on the property, Caren Gray, Belle Vie's manager, is roped into solving a mystery that has personal connections. The book has a lot of potential, and I continued reading to see what happened. However, there are numerous flaws and it would have benefited from a skilled editor and major rewriting. The plot is overly convoluted, with unnecess...more
Abby
Sep 25, 2013 Abby rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
My disappointment in “The Cutting Season” is at least partly because I was expecting a different book. I knew Attica Locke's first book, “Black Water Rising,” had been considered for various prizes and I had the sense that she had been anointed a young writer to watch. I knew “The Cutting Season” would open with a dead body showing up on a Louisiana plantation but I wasn't expecting a formulaic mystery. I was expecting a novel steeped in atmosphere, invoking echoes of the past and dealing with c...more
Clif Hostetler
This novel is social commentary disguised as a murder mystery. It prompts readers to contemplate themes of race, class, economics and the importance of historical events in a modern society. The setting is an antebellum plantation that has been preserved as a historical event center where tourists and wedding parties can be entertained with reenactments of historical plantation events by actors dressed in period costumes.

The social and economic status of people working at the facility and surro...more
Carol
My sincere thanks to Harper Collins for provinging the E-galley to be released in September 2012.


This is a mystery plain and simple. Or is it? simple, that is? Right from the get go there is a body and the presumption of wrong doing though it needs to be proved. And there's a storyline that goes back many, many years that involves a missing free slave but no body.

What I loved about The Cutting Season by Attica Locke was the peeling back of generational history and seeing what was, the post civil...more
switterbug (Betsey)
The past and the present are inextricably bound, and history is examined, re-examined, and refined within the context of a changing world of ideas, new evidence, and reform. Attica Locke demonstrated this in her first crime book, BLACK WATER RISING, (nominated for an Orange Prize in 2009). Once again, she braids controversial social and historical issues with an intense and multi-stranded mystery.

Locke artfully informs CUTTING SEASON with the dark corners of our nation’s past and the ongoing pr...more
Kelly Hager
This could probably best be described as a literary thriller. Normally when I hear that, I think something that's a little boring, but that's not the case here at all. The emphasis is more on "literary" but "thriller" is very well represented, too.

Instead, The Cutting Season is incredibly well-written but it's also very gripping and hard to put down.

I'd never read Attica Locke before (she has one other novel, Black Water Rising) but when I heard that this was the first selection for Dennis Leha...more
L.A.
Article first published as Book Review:The Cutting Season by Attica Locke on Blogcritics.

You often hear that you can never go home. From experience, I know that what you left behind is never the same as it was before. Often the return brings heartache, and then there are the times that bring terror.

In The Cutting Season by Attica Locke, we visit the Deep South and one of the Plantations of Old. Belle Vie is a huge place and a reminder of the past which includes generations of slavery. Caren Gr...more
Diane
This is an intriguing murder mystery set at a Louisiana plantation in 2009. A migrant worker for a sugar corporation was found killed, but it seems there is another mystery also unfolding, one that goes back to the years after the Civil War. The plantation is now part of a tourist attraction, and the woman who manages it, Caren Gray, has deep family ties to the place. The police have a suspect in the migrant worker's death, but Caren thinks something else is going on.

In addition to providing a...more
Laura
This felt like a cookie cutter mystery. Nothing new or fresh that pulled me in. It lacked the intensity of a good mystery. If I hadn't finished the book, I would have loss no sleep wondering what happened. I want a mystery to make me bite my nails and dare me to turn to the last pages to see what the outcome will be. I think I was more concerned with the Eric/Caren relationship than solving the mystery.
K
Author Locke turns her attention to southern life (specifically Louisiana) and the past (slavery) in her second book after her highly respected novel Black Water Rising. Caren Gray is a single mother to 9-year old daughter Morgan. Years ago while at a New Orleans law school she met a fellow student, Eric, and fell in love. But unable to finish her law degree due to financial hardship and with a baby to care for Caren moves on with her life while Eric becomes a lawyer, first in Chicago and later...more
Diana
This book really made me think about famous librarian Nancy Pearl's theory about the doorways into fiction. She says that there are 4 doorways that draw people in, plot,setting, character and writing. When I first read this, I shrugged and said, "I want them all." But thinking about it further, I've realized that really, I'm a person who cares about the writing. Marilynne Robinson's books about small town religious life? I love them, and I'm not really very interested in Christianity or small to...more
Laura
First a caveat: I "read" this book by listening to it on Audible, and I enjoyed the narration quite a bit, which might be impacting my review. I have to admit if I had read this as a physical book, I may not have finished it.

The basic story line here is a murder mystery, and the author does a good job of superimposing a long-cold case of a disappearance into the mix, giving us essentially two mysteries to solve. The setting is picturesque plantation-turned-tourist destination, where weddings ar...more
Amy
Attica Locke’s latest novel, The Cutting Season, defies categorization. Part thriller, part murder mystery, part historical novel, and part literary contemporary fiction, there is something here to please just about every reader. Caren Gray is the manager of Louisiana’s Belle Vie, a once grand sugarcane plantation turned historical tourist site. Living on site with her eleven year old daughter Caren’s job is a homecoming of sorts. Her mother worked at Belle Vie when she was a child, and her ance...more
Jean
Caren Gray is the manager of what used to be a sugarcane plantation called Belle Vie. Belle Vie is now used as a tourist attraction/banquet center. When the body of a female migrant worker is found on the grounds, to Caren's chagrin the police do not appear to be on the correct tract. One of Caren's workers quickly becomes the main suspect and it appears that her young daughter has knowledge of the crime which puts her life in danger.

This then becomes a riveting mystery. Caren calls in her daugh...more
Courtney
I would have ranked this higher if it had less profanity... it just was REALLY redundant. Yay! I get it... you know the F word... and how to use it OVER AND OVER.

Also, it was a bit predictable. And some things were not well researched. Has she ever met a child the age of Caren's? Because she does not act young... more like a moody teen. It really ruined parts of the narration.

Glancing at the reviews of this book, I wonder if anyone has actually read it since they seem to be plot summaries. Weird...more
Luanne Ollivier
I have a mental list of authors that I faithfully follow and I pick up everything they write. I know what I like and I have a good idea of what I'll be reading. But on the other side of that coin - picking up a book by an unfamiliar author is an adventure.

The Cutting Season is Attica Locke's second book. I missed her debut novel - Black Water Rising - it won numerous prize nominations and lots of praise. But, after reading The Cutting Season, I can see why. Attica Locke is good -really good.

Car...more
Paula
“The Cutting Season” had great fanfare since Attica Locke’s first book received prize-winning acclaim. While I enjoyed “The Cutting Season,” it wasn’t one of those can’t put down until you are finished books. For a murder mystery, its pace seemed a bit leisurely and I didn’t sense any real build up of suspense. Perhaps this sultry pace took its cue from the southern location on the Belle Vie Plantation. The premise was an interesting one: Caren Gray returns to manage the plantation where her mot...more
Beth
Attica Locke’s highly anticipated new novel The Cutting Season is an atmospheric murder mystery that weaves together two stories, skillfully drawing readers between past and present. A gripping story of race, love, and politics, The Cutting Season grabs readers from the first page.

Caren Gray’s family has been connected to Belle Vie, an antebellum plantation in Louisiana, for generations. Unlike the neighboring farm where migrant workers harvest sugarcane, Belle Vie is now an historic estate ope...more
Sam
Caren is the manager at Belle Vie, a sprawling plantation house deep in Louisiana One morning whilst making her inspection of the grounds, she comes across a young Mexican woman, brutally murdered and discarded. With the police investigation inadequate, Caren investigates and the more she finds out, the more she starts to suspect a cover up. The white owner of the property is desperate to sell, the woman's employer has a history of violence and she might have uncovered something she shouldn't ha...more
Larraine
It's rare to find both a good mystery and a literary novel rolled into one. This is the second book by Ms. Locke, the first book in the Dennis Lehane Imprint. Supposedly he chooses the books himself. I read the previous one, Visitation Street, and really enjoyed it. It was was excellent.

This is actually Ms. Locke's second book. Somehow I missed her first, Black Water Rising, but it's now in my TBR pile. In the meantime, this one is due back at the library soon, plus I'm sure there are some eage...more
Kelaine
Attica Locke is a wonderful screenwriter, creating a marvelously descriptive setting of a Louisiana plantation struggling to survive in the 21st century. Like so many older great homes, tourism provides a means to keep its and our own history alive. The setting becomes a full fledged character in this modern murder mystery based on a much older mystery occurring just after the end of the Civil War. Unfortunately, while the modern plantation's character is developed, the connection of the reader...more
Monique
As this wore on I was really having issues with suspending disbelief. The main charater, Caren, has to be the most unobservant charater in history. Which is more annoying when you find that she was going to be a lawyer. Figured out the final twist about Jason half way through the book, and suspected the twist about the killer just a little bit futher in than that. I know that this had good reviews but I found it incredibly unsatisfying. Partially because it quickly began to feel like the never e...more
Karen
Even though this book started off slow, the second half really made up for it!
I enjoyed the interaction between Caren and Eric most of all in this book. I wanted to shake Caren at times when she made dumb decisions but I instantly loved Eric and his voice of reason. Both of them could have easily acted like most ex's do but instead they were mature parents looking out for the welfare of their daughter and each other too.
I enjoyed the historical plantation of Belle Vie and envied Caren's job to...more
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Joyce's Reading Log: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke 1 3 May 17, 2014 06:28PM  
Literary Fiction ...: Attia Locke Wins Ernest J. Gaines Award 7 31 Nov 03, 2013 12:46PM  
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About the Author
Born in Houston, Texas, Attica Locke has worked in both film and television for over ten years. She has written movie scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and most recently completed an adaptation of Stephen Carter's The Emperor of Pictures. She now lives in Los Angeles. Black Water Rising is her first novel.

Attica Locke is a writer whose first novel,...more
More about Attica Locke...
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“The decor was attractive and strong, but blander than she would have thought his wealth and position afforded him. Caren couldn't see the point of having that much money if all of it led to beige.” 5 likes
“Mothering, she learned the hard way, was about loss as well as love.” 3 likes
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