The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Book Description:

Published: September 18, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar cane fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it’s something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn’t know. As she’s drawn into the dead girl’s story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.

A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Seasonbrings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising.

Review –

“A lush plantation is the scene of what could be the perfect murder.

As manager of Belle Vie, an antebellum estate 50 miles south of Baton Rouge and an equal distance from New Orleans to the east, Caren Gray burns the candle at both ends. She supervises the staff and produces weddings and parties at the plantation while trying to raise her preteen daughter, Morgan. Also under her supervision is a historical play called The Olden Days of Belle Vie, which keeps the memory of 19th-century Louisiana alive for better or worse. Currently in a rebellious phase, Morgan plays her father, Eric, who’s estranged from Caren and has moved to Chicago for a job, against her mother. Fieldworker Luis’ discovery of a body facedown in a shallow, makeshift grave complicates an already challenging day for Caren. The victim is a young woman, her throat slit. Local police swarm Belle Vie as Caren confronts the problem of missing actor Donovan Isaacs, unwelcome freeloader Bobby Clancy and Morgan’s customary moods. After she finds blood on her daughter’s blouse, Caren goes into defensive mode when Morgan’s explanations are iffy. As Detective Jimmy Bertrand and his team dig deeper, everyone at Belle Vie gets edgier.

Locke’s second novel (Black Water Rising, 2009) is written with fluidity and elegance, evoking the uniqueness of her setting and the nuances in the relationships of her characters, complicated by race, class and history. Her whodunit plot often seems like a MacGuffin but could well strike readers as a bonus.”Kirkus Review

A great read rich in history and mystery.

 

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published; July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

This one is a must for your TBR if you are looking for a fast-paced story that is easily read in any setting and impossible to put down. If you’re new to this author,(as I am)then know his writing style is very similar to Harlan Coben’s, meaning there are usually many plot lines that start out removed from each other but are slowly brought together toward the end for the big reveal.

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first thirty to forty percent of the novel; we take our time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I’m quite partial to. Ok, except for that first section, which perfectly hooked my attention. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist Anna and his second wife Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

The plot is told mostly through three points of view: Paul’s, Anna’s (the psychiatrist), and Charlotte’s (Paul’s current wife). Also sprinkled throughout the story we learn about Paul’s ex-wife, her new husband, Paul’s son, Anna’s father, and Kenneth and his family. Everything pretty much branches off from these particular head points, and there are side plots galore. Maybe a few people will find it unnecessarily confusing, but I thought it was tastefully done and added to the intrigue. Which side plots would turn out to be connected to the main? Which were red herrings? Which were unrelated but still vital to the story’s characterization? This was all present and kept me, a seasoned mystery fanatic, busy, preoccupied, and flustered in the best way possible.

I thought I had it all figured out, and I was both right and wrong. I LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS! Let me explain (minus the spoilers). If you are an expert detective while reading novels of suspense, or if you’ve even simply read a few, you’ll probably think you know where this is going. And you’d be right, EXCEPT… Here’s the thing, I had the who, the why, and some of the how figured out. There are only so many options to what’s going on with the dang typewriter, so naturally many readers will come to that conclusion on their own. What I loved was that the author gives us all this, and it’s a red herring in and of itself.  I won’t tell you exactly when this happens, because I don’t want you to be expecting it, but it’s not at the very end. And then come the waves of reveals my friends… WAVES! How exciting is it to keep receiving twists, both big and small, time after time until the last page is turned? The first twist that I hadn’t personally figured out knocked me completely off balance when it happened. It’s been awhile I’ve read a book where the author chose to use this particular plot element and it was beautifully done.

Fantastic read!