- The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
This novel earns 3.5 stars from me, a rating I am inclined to round down to make the "full star"-only sites happy. Locke is clearly aiming for social commentary in the novel, both relating to our view of the past (emphasized by the play put on daily that shows slaves who love living and working on the plantation) and commenting on the current world of migrant farm work. This gets a bit too heavy-handed and overt, she's trying to show rather than tell but it needs some work. The mystery element was above-average, better than some typical detective stories and well-related to the other elements of the story. The sense of place was a plus. It allowed me to visit a distinct region, but I still felt it had some room for improvement. As for relationships, I wanted to see more of Caren's daughter and less of her ex. It also felt like some characters were tossed in, there for color (that's not intended to refer to race) and not fully rounded. Overall, the highlight of the book is Locke's talent for crafting language. She writes beautifully. I can't decide if this is praise or criticism, but my ultimate verdict is on The Cutting Season is that the language trumped the plot.