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Murder mystery with taste of the past

Slavery provides backdrop for mystery

By Kathy Habel

For The Free Lance-Star

BELLE VIE, a Louisiana plantation, is a symbol of a gracious and elegant past where ladies drank tea on a vast portico and gentlemen spent their leisure time sipping mint juleps and riding their thoroughbred horses. But for others, it is a symbol of the toil that took place in the cane fields, with workers living in a dirt floor cabin and serving a master.

For Caren Gray, the plantation is both. Living at the estate and managing it as a tourist attraction provides her and her daughter with a safe haven after a tumultuous relationship with her daughter’s father. It also is a tie with her dead mother who worked as a cook on the estate for many years. Finally, the estate is a link with an ancestor, Jason, a slave who mysteriously disappeared after the Civil War.

With the murder of a young migrant worker from the nearby cane fields, Caren’s quiet existence ends. The police begin a search for the killer, the owner of the estate conducts secret negotiations for the sale and demolition of the plantation and the secret of Jason’s disappearance comes to the surface.

“The Cutting Season” is an intricate murder mystery combined with reflections of

a sad and inhumane past. Attica Locke interweaves an absorbing story with scenes from the days of slavery. She provides enough twists and turns along with a surprise ending to satisfy those who love to spend an evening with a good novel.

Kathy Habel is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.

THE CUTTING SEASON

By Attica Locke

(HarperCollins, $25.99, 384 pp.)

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/books/2012/09/21/murder-mystery-with-taste-of-the-past/

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