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The Cutting Season

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  12,148 ratings  ·  1,651 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Amistad (first published September 11th 2012)
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Brandi Yes! I was waiting for it, maybe as a last hurrah or in an epilogue...not hugely disappointed, but slightly.

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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  12,148 ratings  ·  1,651 reviews

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Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atmospheric and engaging crime novel about a woman who manages a plantation turned tourist attraction and event venue and then has to unravel several mysteries, past and present, when a dead body shows up on the property. There is a strong sense of place and I enjoyed how Locke created multiple intrigues. The way she develops her characters is also really strong. At times, the pacing felt off and I wanted more tension but I really liked this novel.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kerry Kilburn
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, mystery
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
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
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-goal

I really liked this book but it took its slow Southern time getting around to the mystery part. Coverups, migrant workers, railroaded young men, memories of a plantation’s slave days and reconciling the past and the present made for one complicated book.

It was a lot to unpack and the plot seemed to careen from one twist to another and then the author threw in some unfinished romantic business that quite frankly was unnecessary.

I think the book tried to be too many things — I would have pref
Primrose Jess
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
...dark clouds had started a march overhead. Like chunks of ash after a steady burn, they crowded out any hint of light or color on the other side, the sun or blue sky. The wind had picked up, too, whipping cane leaves in the distance, the sound like the percussive whoosh of seeds inside a baby's shaker. There was a storm coming, for sure, rolling up the Mississippi from the Gulf, gaining strength, bringing thunder and lightning, too. The air was sharp with it, the acrid smell of electricity lyi ...more
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
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa Lieberman
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read an interview with Attica Locke where she reveals the inspiration behind this book. She was invited to a wedding on a former plantation in Louisiana. "It was one of the oddest experiences of my life," she said.
I burst into tears the second I stepped foot on that land and what it represented, me standing there in a fancy dress and high heels near a plaque with the names and costs of all the slaves that had been owned there. The bride and groom were an interracial couple. My husband and I ar
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
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
Ann Woodbury Moore
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Brown Girl Reading
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. I rate it a solid 4,5 stars. When is Good reads going to make it so we can give half star? Read in-depth review at on Friday. ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Belle Vie is an old plantation in New Orleans that now functions as a glimpse into the past-- complete with re-enactments, a library and a museum of sorts. Oh- they also hold events- weddings, conferences, and dinners.

Caren Gray grew up on this plantation with her mother. Her ancestors were once slaves living on the plantation and the history never leaves Caren as she finds herself back at Belle Vie with her daughter. One morning a body shows up on the fence line between the plantation and the
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! This is a haunting & compelling contemporary mystery rooted in the antebellum history of a former plantation in Louisiana.
Caren is the heroine, strong and likeable yet vulnerable & fallible. I want this to continue as a series.

Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Clif Hostetler
Nov 03, 2012 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
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I expected from the Cutting Season to be a deeply atmospheric book invoking images of the deep south of Lousiana drawing from the tension between the past and the present. It started out that way but sadly for me it just could not maintain its momentum.

Caron, who manages a former plantation as a historic site for the owners, has actually grown up on the plantation and in fact, her ancestors were slaves on the plantation. Now, she organises school trips, a jaunty little play about the history of
Kelly Hager
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Debbie "DJ"
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it

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.
Jun 01, 2014 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. ...more
J Beckett
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-written frame story filled with plot twists that render the readers gasping for air, and characters who are complex enough to keep the pages turning, enthusiastically. Nice "dual period" piece brought seamlessly together through the story-telling prowess of Attica Locke. A truly wondrous journey! ...more
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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

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