Muholland Books/Little Brown & Co, $26.00, 303 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-36329-7
One of 2017s most outstanding novels was first released in the last quarter of the year, and we were so inundated with other books to review that we weren’t able to report on it. The MBR regrets that and intends to rectify things immediately.
Bluebird, Bluebird, by award-winning author Attica Locke, took the reading world by storm with her novel of ethnicity, kin, honor, prejudice and justice in the east Texas town of Lark. It’s a place that time and progress have forgotten . . . where race is ever present . . . and fairness is hard to come by. East Texas is where a black man named Darren Mathews grew up and escaped from the first chance he got. Now, he’s a Texas Ranger with an Ivy League education who’s being inexorably pulled back down Highway 59 to his red dirt roots by the deaths of a black, middle-aged lawyer from Chicago and a young, local white woman. Both of their bodies washed ashore in the Attoyac Bayou within a couple of days of each other and it’s stirred up a boatload of simmering racial tensions, resentments and reexaminations of old, scabbed-over injustices that have been festering for decades. What seems at first to be another racially-motivated crime turns out to be a more complex and disturbing tragedy, with roots hidden deep in the social fabric of a culture which no longer exists, except in myth. Ranger Darren Mathews is a modern day knight-errant, duty and honor-bound to solve a crime that conceals at its heart a devastating secret which could cost him his career, his family and possibly his life.
Attica Locke has written one of the most compelling, thought-provoking and provocative novels to come down the literary pike in an ordinary lifetime, because at its heart, is that which we’re all reluctant to acknowledge and discuss openly: race and relationships, and how all of us . . . black, white, red, brown and yellow are going to live together in peace and harmony after everything that’s gone before. And, oh yeah, wrapped up neatly in the middle of it all, is an exceptional murder mystery that’ll keep you guessing up until the very end. Bluebird, Bluebird is genre fiction raised to the level of art. It has masterpiece written all over it!