The Cutting Season

Harper: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780061802058. $25.99. F
Caren Gray faces down the ugly history of slavery daily—she manages the Belle Vie plantation for its owners, the Clancy family. For generations, her family worked for the Clancys, and she and her nine-year-old daughter found refuge here after Hurricane Katrina. Caren's routine of coordinating school tours, weddings, and banquets is interrupted by the grisly discovery of a migrant worker's body on the property. The police zero in on a suspect, but Caren is unconvinced they have their man. Her investigation unearths more than she bargained for—and she realizes how widespread the repercussions of slavery still ripple.
VERDICT Locke's second novel (after 2009's Black Water Rising) is a layered, nuanced mystery with a social conscience. Weaving legal, social, historical, and economic elements into the story of a changing family, it's a good choice for readers who enjoy multifaceted mysteries with a strong female protagonist and that blur genre distinctions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/12; author Dennis Lehane picked this title as his first selection for his eponymous imprint at HarperCollins.—Ed.]

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