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Bluebird, Bluebird

(Highway 59 #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  7,477 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews
A powerful thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice from a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire.

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his fam
Published 2017 by Profile Books
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3.83  · 
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 ·  7,477 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews

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Attica Locke has written a superb novel that is bleak, compelling, atmospheric, with a strong sense of location of small town East Texas, that depressingly mirrors many parts of the USA today. It gives us the disturbingly unsettling everyday experiences of Darren Mathews that suggest nothing has changed since the days of an openly active KKK running rife, where lynchings were common, and where black communities lived in fear of their lives on a daily basis. Darren is a black Texan Ranger, suspen ...more
Bluebird, bluebird, take this letter down south for me... (John Lee Hooker)

Great read, great writing. Crime Noir in Southern USA, Houston area and around. I remember I read Black Water Rising of Attica Locke some years ago and thinking, this is an interesting writer. So this one caught my eye. Recommended for sure for those who like a good crime story, brooding, raw, rough & gritty.... Seems this is going to be a series!

I read her first book in 2013, this is what the profile of Locke says: A
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Engrossing and laden with atmospheric foreboding-

This novel is packed with emotions, thick racial tensions and family dramas. I could almost imagine blues rifts playing in the background as the events in Lark, Texas unfolded. I could envision the town, the people, and feel the intense feeling of dread creeping up on me as the story unfolded.

When Michael Wright, a black lawyer from Chicago, stops in the small East Texas town, he never makes it back home. His bo
Diane S ☔
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The men rarely stood on common ground--belying the trope of twins who think with one mind_but for he fact that they were Matthews men, a tribe going back generations in rural East Texas, black men whose self regard was both a natural state of being and a survival technique. His uncle's adhered to the ancient rules of Southern living, for they understood how easily a colored man's general comportment could turn into a matter of life and death. Darren had always wanted to believe that theirs was ...more
James Thane
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Darren Mathews is a rarity in that he's a black Texas Ranger. He also has troubles of his own that may cost him his career and his marriage. While his future, both professional and personal, hangs in the balance, Darren finds himself in Lark, a tiny East Texas town out in the middle of nowhere, where the local sheriff suddenly has two homicides on his hands. The first victim was thirty-five-year-old Michael Wright, a black lawyer from Chicago who was found floating in a bayou after being beaten ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I had to keep reminding myself that Bluebird, Bluebird is set today, and not fifty years ago or so. It's depiction of race relations in rural Texas is reminiscent of books I have read about the Jim Crow era, and is quite bleak to say the least. It's a mystery of sorts. Troubled African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews goes to a small town in East Texas to investigate the seemingly linked murders of a black man and white woman. As the story progresses, it feels like he is peeling back the di ...more
My public library's book of the month for October. African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is investigating a double murder in rural Lark, Texas. A fast paced detective thriller that I enjoy as a palette cleanser in between a string of denser reads. This double murder appears that way on the surface but as Matthews investigates, he peels back layers of a crime in which black and white, love and hate are intricately woven. I can see why the library would choose this as their book of the mon ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio

In Bluebird, Bluebird, current day East Texas has never moved on from the 1950s. Segregation and prejudice are the norm. The Aryan Brotherhood is alive and well. I couldn’t count the times a white man called a black man ‘boy’.

Told from the perspective of Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, as he investigates two murders in a small town - a black man’s, whose murder is barely being investigated before he arrives, and a white woman’s. The book’s blurb rightly describes it as a collision of rac
Joe Valdez
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Bluebird, Bluebird is one of those novels that I felt was written for me. Published in 2017, this is the fourth book by Attica Locke, a native Houstonian who after nearly fifteen years as a highly sought-after screenwriter (on projects that all went unproduced), began moonlighting in mystery fiction, using the geography, culture and racial divides of East Texas to inform her stories. Like Tana French, Locke writes literary novels that happen to involve a homicide investigation. Her ability to un ...more
Theresa Alan
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this story about a black Texas Ranger who’s suspended for going to the aid of an acquaintance who was being harassed by a white supremacist who was on his land. That supremacist is found dead two days later. Darren is already struggling with his marriage and drinking too much in his loneliness and frustration.

Despite being suspended, when he hears about a black man found dead under suspicious circumstances in a town of 200 people that’s well known for having a high
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I thought Bluebird, Bluebird was a decent story, I enjoyed it much less than I expected to, after great hype. The premise was intriguing - Darren Matthews, an African-American Texas Ranger, becomes involved in a case in the small town of Lark, in East Texas, where two bodies were recently found - a white woman and a black man. Darren attempts to solve the mystery of these two murders.

The story took forever to actually build my interest though. I wasn’t into it until about the 60% complete
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Bluebird bluebird take this letter down South for me.”

Upon winning the Edgar Award, Attica Locke was quoted as saying: “My books are very black, very Texan. I didn’t think there was a place for them.” I hate to admit that were it not for my recent obsession of stalking Little Brown for David Sedaris Calypso posts on Instagram, I might not have ever heard of Bluebird Bluebird myself. Those of you who are a lot more hip than I probabl
Brown Girl Reading
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of crime/mysteries and lovers of Attica Locke
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Bluebird, bluebird, take this letter down South for me.” – John Lee Hooker

Bluebird, Bluebird is set in the fictional East Texas town of Lark, where the battered body of a black lawyer from Chicago is found in the bayou. Local law enforcement’s early conclusion: drowning. A few days later, the body of a young local white woman is found in the same bayou. Ordinarily, two deaths that appear to be similar that occur in such a short period of time would seem to be related; however, the fact that the
Cindy Burnett
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: little-brown
4.5 stars

Bluebird, Bluebird is a complex, multi-layered mystery that takes place in a small East Texas town. The tale is dark, thought-provoking and well-written. I liked but didn’t love the protagonist, Ranger Darren Matthews, who is a bit too troubled but smart and compassionate. The plot’s resolution was believable, and I love the way Attica Locke writes her characters and the setting. Overall, it’s a fabulous book.

I live in Texas and have spent a fair amount of time in East Texas. This book
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
"Geneva Sweet ran an orange extension cord past Mayva Greenwood, Beloved Wife and Mother, May She Rest With her Heavenly Father."

The first line of this novel caught my attention immediately. What a great beginning! And it only got better from there.

Being from Texas, and being very familiar with Houston, Hwy 59, and the tiny little East Texas towns that dot the highway like so many mosquito bites on a redneck's arm, I was quickly drawn to this story of a black Texas Ranger and the two murders h
This book, at its core, is about race and justice. Believe it or not this takes place in 2016 -and yet in East Texas, African Americans are still called "Niggers" and still asked to leave white establishments. Maybe it's because I am from Canada, but I found that to be totally unimaginable.

We meet Darren Matthews, a Texas Ranger, who goes to small town Lark, to investigate the death of a black lawyer and a local white woman. Are the two deaths connected? Being a small town, there are nu
Monica **can't read fast enough**
In Bluebird, Bluebird Locke tackles the difficulty of being a black man in the south with education, status, and the drive to make things better. Locke begins to peel back the layers of what it means to call a place that is not always welcoming home. Of being drawn to a place that is hostile to your very existence. Darren and his family have deep roots in Texas. The Mathews family has every right and reason to be proud of their family's legacy that they fought to establish while fighting against ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-mystery
Climate change, they call it. This keep up and I'll live long enough to see hell on earth, I guess.

This story was not what I thought it might be at the start. It went a different route and went deeper, examining prejudice and racial tensions in a way I haven't read about before, seen through the eyes of various people having to cope with it in whatever manner they chose or were forced to choose, whether it was by leaving their home, or by acquiescing to their oppressors, or by doing so only outw
Laura/Mystery in Minutes
Visit to read (and listen to) the complete Mystery in Minutes review! Winner and nominee of multiple awards, including the 2018 Edgar award for Best Novel, and the 2017 Los Angeles Times book prize for mystery/thriller, Bluebird, Bluebird by American author Attica Locke is a mystery novel dripping with southern, blues atmosphere, one that digs deep, and often suspensefully, into interpersonal relationships and family sagas. It is the author's heartfelt lo ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
"The most elemental instinct in human nature is not hate but love, the former inextricably linked to the latter."

Phew! I inhaled this book in one sitting. I've spent a whole Sunday in the hot, sticky backwoods of East Texas, and it was scary. I usually avoid anything related to hate crimes and other racially charged themes because it really gets my blood boiling. Injustice stinks. But this had so many aspects of In the Heat of the Night, that it was hard not to put down. I also didn't anticipate
Rating: 5 stars

Bluebird, Bluebird, is a wonderful Literary Thriller written by Attica Locke. Even though Literary Thriller may not be a recognized book genre, it’s an apt designation for this book. Locke has written a mystery which also contains lots of food for thought as to how racism, in Texas at least, hasn't appreciably improved for African Americans in the recent decades. Even though we’ve had a black President, the deck of law-enforcement, for the most part, is still stacked against the b
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke is a novel about a black Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, who finds himself investigating two murders which have occurred in the tiny Texas backwater of Lark. The two victims are a visiting black man from Chicago, and a local white woman. Racial tensions are close to boiling point in the district, which has a history of race related murders and tension between the black and white communities. The investigation has been made all the more difficult for Darren, becaus ...more
Liz Barnsley
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bluebird Bluebird is a novel of true excellence, in concept, execution, character and incredibly talented writing. It pulls you in from the very first page, tells truth however uncomfortable, leaves you thinking about it for a good few hours afterwards and is one of those books that defies definition.

The plot is complex, intelligent and disturbingly realistic – and described much better than I could do justice to in other reviews so I’ll stick to talking about the impact Bluebird Bluebird (taken
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 *

Well written literary thriller dealing with race, family, love, loyalty and host of other issues. Darren is a very intriguing character. Hes conflicted between being who he is versus what the public perceive him or want him to be. I think because it has such a complicated and convoluted plot, it just didnt do it for me. I kept feeling like I had to re read areas just to make sense of certain plotlines. Emotional novel though, reminding us that family, friends and strangers are sometimes wha
Taryn Pierson
I didn’t expect this to be one of the scarier books on my list this month. I’ve been getting into the Halloween spirit recently with some horror and thrillers, but I picked up this “rural noir” because Attica Locke is an automatic read for me and my turn came up on the library holds list. With Charlottesville fresh in my mind, however, this story of a small town infested with white supremacists was really freaking scary. It’s not like anyone can blithely claim that neo-Nazis are an extinct relic ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crisp charged emotion - no extra words and with focused flavors of dozens of overlapping feelings. Locale specifics are nuance immense. But the characterizations even better. All of them.

Tense. Sweaty. All have subversive interlocking secrets and baggage of both regrets and sorrow. Also Attica Locke is absolutely superb on dialog and body placements, car movements, all the "sight lines"- which are very seldom done half as well in fiction print.

It's just the perfect length, has an ending which
BookRiot 2018 Read Harder Challenge #21: A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author

This is a bit like a Scandinavian mystery (although there are other examples that would serve equally well) in that this is two books in one: a mystery used as a vehicle to explore a social problem. In this case it's the experience of black people in rural East Texas, particularly in how they interact with law enforcement.

The author, Attica Locke, is a Houston native, so she knows what she is writing about. H
Book Riot Community
Attica Locke has reached perfection with Bluebird, Bluebird. Suspended Texas Ranger Darren Mathews finds himself traveling to Lark and looking into the murder of a black man from Chicago and a local white woman. The local authorities don’t want any outside help, let alone a black man, poking around their case. But Mathews isn’t one to let things go and he’s tired of being told not to think crimes have anything to do with race. Faced with town secrets, the ABT (Aryan Brotherhood of Texas), his dr ...more
David Yoon
Darren Matthews is a Texas Ranger. He's also on suspension, drinking a little too heavily and clearly on the outs with his wife. And he's black.

Pulled into the tiny town of Lark to look into a double homicide where nothing is as it's seems. It's a local white girl and an affluent, out of town black man. Attica Locke is here to explore the tensions between rural and urban blacks, race in the South, justice and how it splits alongs color lines and the simmering reality of the Aryan Brotherhood.

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Play Book Tag: Bluebird, Bluebird - Attica Locke (4 stars) 3 13 May 06, 2019 01:44PM  
Fresh*Reads: Love It, Hate It, Somewhere In Between? 6 12 Nov 01, 2018 09:50AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Highway 59 (2 books)
  • Heaven, My Home (Highway 59 #2)
“He had forgotten that the most elemental instinct in human nature is not hate but love, the former inextricably linked to the latter.” 4 likes
“The belief that they were special, that they had the stones to endure what others couldn't, was the most quintessentially Texas thing about them. It was an arrogance born of genuine fortitude and a streak of hardheadness six generations deep, a Homeric shield against the petty jealousies and lethal injustices that so occupied white folks' free time, their oppressive and intrusive gaze into every aspect of black life - from what you eat to who you marry to the clothes you wear to the music you play to the way you wear your hair to how you address them on the street. The Mathews family recognized it for what it was: a fevered obsession that didn't really have anything to do with them, a preoccupation that weakened a man looking anywhere but at himself.” 2 likes
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