Review: Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

9781781258965 (1).jpgTense, powerful and considerably less crass than its contemporaries, Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird is a deftly plotted whodunit that examines contemporary black life in rural America. It begins with a double homicide in the small town of Lark, off Highway 59: the first victim, a black man from Chicago; the second, a local white woman. Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger on the drink of losing his job because of his involvement in a race-related murder in another part of the state, is drawn into the investigation, which unravels with devastating consequences for all involved: this is, after all, a place in America where a black man asking hard questions to the wrong kind of people guarantees blowback.

Bluebird, Bluebird is a mystery that works because of the strengths of its characters, both its protagonist and its substantial supporting cast, which includes the requisite hostile sheriff, the white supremacist husband of the dead woman, and the dead lawyer’s angry widow, who has her own suspicions about what her husband was doing in the town. Ranger Matthews is both endearing and infuriating: dedicated to the badge and his mission, but unable to hold his family life together, and finds himself reaching for the bottle as a substitute.

The mystery unfolds rapidly, racial tensions intensifying as Matthews gets closer to the truth. This is an unfettered snapshot of rural America, a place where blood runs deep and nothing is more important than family. Locke’s uncanny gift is her ability to humanise the killers and monsters that populate her novel, which adds a special kind of repulsiveness and authenticity.This is a wonderfully taut whodunit, complicated by race and familial history. Readers will delight in the knowledge that Bluebird, Bluebird is the start of a series set along Highway 59. With its stirring ending, they’ll be on tenterhooks until the sequel arrives. I certainly am.

ISBN: 9781781258965
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Serpent’s Tail
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publish Date: 28-Sep-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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