In Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke introduces us to Darren Mathews, a highly conflicted Texas Ranger. He’s been to law school, but has chosen law enforcement over legal work. He’s married, but separated. He wants to solve two murders in a tiny East Texas town, but he’s caught up in the racially charged atmosphere. The whole thing makes for a good mystery, with quite a bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure.
Mathews has also been suspended from his position in the Rangers because of another murder, also possibly racially motivated. There’s no shortage of mistrust and obfuscation in his life. And adding the potential involvement of a white nationalist group was an interesting point for me. Earlier this year I read a nonfiction history of these groups, making Locke’s take on them even more chilling.
Darren is the son of two very different African-American families, one full of accomplishments and the other full of disappointments. Now he must choose which side he’s going to fall on. Or perhaps greater forces will choose for him.
This is my first Attica Locke novel. She has a cinematic style, which is logical since she’s also a screenwriter. In fact a drama based on this book has been bought by FX. No surprise there.
I appreciated how Locke mixed in the bigger social issues among a riveting story line. Real life is like that, and she conveys it with delicacy and candor. Darren faces many moments where the road ahead forks between uncomfortable choices. It’s hard to determine where the truth hides.
Usually I judge a mystery or thriller by how easily I guess the killer or killers. Locke didn’t make it easy, but she also provided plenty of clues. Even though I read this during a distracted week, it was possible to get a bead on the killers. For me, that’s a disappointment. Nevertheless, I like her style enough to consider another one of her books in the future. And I’ll definitely watch the show when it comes out. Now I’m off to consider which actor should play Darren!