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The Cutting Season

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  6,780 Ratings  ·  1,067 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
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Harper (first published January 1st 2012)
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Bethany absolutely! I kept checking to see how many pages I had left, hoping maybe they'd cram in a good solution to that in an epilogue or something.
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Community Reviews

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Jan 27, 2013 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2012 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, contemporary
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
Attica Locke, a new to me author, has such an interesting knack of telling a story. She weaves together the past and present to create a tragic mystery involving not one killing... but two. Her background as a screenwriter is readily apparent, she sets her scenes thoughtfully and with a purpose. The first few chapters seemed devoted to the scene and the main character build which creates bond between the reader and Caren right from the get go.

My Reactions:
-2009 is an interesting year to pick a
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
Krystin Rachel
A story about the American South's shameful history and how the crimes of the past ring in the present, The Cutting Season was presented to me as a mystery/trhiller, but it reads more like a contemporary novel that explores the history of black culture in a subtle way, woven between the murder of a migrant worker in a cane-cutting operation.

The operations manager for a historical plantation, Belle Vie, is Caren Gray (a compelling irony being she's a black woman) - a single mother, simply trying
Oct 22, 2012 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Julie Ehlers
The setting for this book was really great. I loved the idea of setting a mystery/thriller at a former plantation turned plantation-themed tourist attraction; the haunted quality of such a place could only increase the level of menace in the proceedings. And that aspect of the book worked very well. In addition, the characters were quite vivid for a book of this type. Unfortunately, it seemed to take forever for anything to happen, and I got frustrated with the way the main character withheld po ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 27, 2012 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2013 Abby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 12, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Clif Hostetler
Nov 03, 2012 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
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
Kelly Hager
Aug 31, 2012 Kelly Hager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Debbie "DJ"
Sep 16, 2012 Debbie "DJ" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed this book. It was full of rich history and gave me a real sense of life on a plantation, what that must have been like for slaves also. I love how it is set in the modern day, with a big mystery and murder intrigue. My eyeballs were flying off the pages toward the end. What a great job of mixing together so many different elements and time periods into one great book that brings it all together in such an exciting way.
Monica **can't read fast enough**
Locke gave a beautifully written story and her vivid descriptions allowed me to easily visualize the setting. The plot is interesting and the setting is beautifully presented in The Cutting Season. For me this was a story where the setting and plot outshone the development of the characters. I had some trouble understanding Caren's actions at times and I would have liked to have had more details and motivation for some of the other characters. There were also some slower moments, but they didn't ...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
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
Aug 22, 2013 Larraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bernard James
Mar 01, 2013 Bernard James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There used to be a time (most notably during the initial period when I started writing seriously), that I would avoid reading certain novels while I was working on something of my own, for fear that the style and delivery of what I was reading would bleed onto the pages of what I was trying to create. A lingering phobia resulting from the warnings of my High School English teacher on the evils of plagiarism reinforced in me a desire not to be influenced IN ANY WAY by the work of others. But as I ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sweeter-reads
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
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
The Cutting Season is a decent murder mystery in a fascinating setting, but it suffers from major character issues. I wavered between two and three stars because of how gripping it was - I did finish it in fewer than 48 hours. (I'm not a great case study for this though, because I'm a huge pansy. Sometimes I read just the synopses of horror movies online to scare myself.)

The best character by far is Belle Vie, a restored plantation that has generations of families tied up in its land. The least
Dec 24, 2012 Diana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, 2012
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
Oct 24, 2012 Courtney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Joyce's Reading Log: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke 1 8 May 17, 2014 06:28PM  
Literary Fiction ...: Attia Locke Wins Ernest J. Gaines Award 7 35 Nov 03, 2013 12:46PM  
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Attica Locke is a writer whose first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for an Orange Prize in the UK.

Attica is also a screenwriter who has written movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, Dreamworks and
More about Attica Locke...

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“Mothering, she learned the hard way, was about loss as well as love.” 6 likes
“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.” 6 likes
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