Read Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke Online


A powerful thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice from a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire.When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his famA powerful thriller about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice from a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire.When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders--a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman--have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes--and save himself in the process--before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America....

Title : Bluebird, Bluebird
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316363297
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 307 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Bluebird, Bluebird Reviews

  • Paromjit
    2019-02-12 03:23

    Attica Locke has written a superb novel that is bleak, compelling, atmospheric, with a strong sense of location of small town East Texas, that depressingly mirrors many parts of the USA today. It gives us the disturbingly unsettling everyday experiences of Darren Mathews that suggest nothing has changed since the days of an openly active KKK running rife, where lynchings were common, and where black communities lived in fear of their lives on a daily basis. Darren is a black Texan Ranger, suspended for going to the aid of Mack, whose granddaughter, Breana, is harassed by Ronnie Malvo, a diehard ABT racist. A few days later, Malvo is found shot dead, and Mack is seen as the main suspect. Darren tries to do his best for Mack to ensure he does not stand trial for murder, and this outcome hangs over Darren throughout the story. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) is a strong and active presence in East Texas, additionally involved in meths production and the illegal sale of guns. Darren is a troubled man, his marriage to Lisa is threatening to splinter because of the dangers of him being a Ranger, his drinking, and the time he spends away from home. Darren hears of two bodies recovered from a bayou in Lark, in Shelby County. One is a black lawyer, Michael Wright, from Chicago but with local roots and the other is local white girl, Missy, discovered two days later. Despite his suspension, he goes to Lark to investigate. He is in redneck country and discovers that it is impossible to understand the black grandmother Geneva, and her black community cafe without Wally's icehouse, a local ABT bar run by the repulsive Brady. Geneva lost her beloved husband, Joe Sweet shot in 2010, and her son was shot by his wife, Mary, in 2013. Wally is wealthy, although it is not clear where the money comes from, and he has plenty of clout with the local sheriff. Lark is not welcoming of Darren, he finds a dead fox left in his truck, and his life in deadly danger. However, he identifies with the dead Michael and feels for the widow, Randie, as he searches for the truth against all the odds. Neither the Texas Rangers nor local law enforcement will consider or allow for race as a motive for the murders due to political implications. As Darren trawls through the murky waters of local intertwined history, he finds that family, love, hate and jealousy have lead to murders in the past and present. The title Bluebird, Bluebird is a reference to the highly symbolic John Lee Hooker's song, Bluebird, Bluebird, take this letter down South for me. I loved Locke's novel Black Water Rising, but this is superlative, it has her trademark beautiful prose. It is a compelling story with its insightful and pertinent social and political commentary on the incendiary issues of race and justice that continue to divide and threaten the US today. It chillingly explains just how strong the bedrock of support for Donald Trump is and why worryingly it remains undiminished. It is a complex tale with a central character, Darren, caught up in a fraught situation with personal reverberations that have him questioning his identity and if he should continue to serve as a Texas Ranger. This is the first of the Highway 59 series by Locke and I cannot wait to read the next. A phenomenal read that I highly recommend. Many thanks to Serpent's Tail for an ARC.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-01-24 03:01

    "The men rarely stood on common ground--belying the trope of twins who think with one mind_but for he fact that they were Matthews men, a tribe going back generations in rural East Texas, black men whose self regard was both a natural state of being and a survival technique. His uncle's adhered to the ancient rules of Southern living, for they understood how easily a colored man's general comportment could turn into a matter of life and death. Darren had always wanted to believe that theirs was the last generation to have to live this way, that change might trickle down from the White House. When in fact the opposite had proved to be true. In the wake of Obama , America had told on itself."I seldom start a review with a quote, but I found this so succinct and powerful. Darren, like his uncle before him is a Texas Ranger, a black man, and a rarity in that service. He takes his task to serve and protect very seriously. Two bodies are pulled from the bayou,one a black man, one a young white woman, and Darren finds himself returning to East Texas, a place he had left vowing never to return.To call this a mystery is I think doing it a disservice. It is so much more, politics, race, white supremacists, and hate, so much hate. Cover-ups and secrets, the past rising up to affect the present. This is a mystery for those who do not like mysteries. (Angela, are you reading this?) The writing is fantastic every word, every action, description has meaning. Atmospheric, pulls one right in to a South that is determined to hold on to it's prejudices. The characters, so well drawn, all of them, which is a rarity in most stories. One knows exactly how these people feel, think, and the things they think are important. An absolutely stellar read, which by something in the ending, leads one to believe we may be hearing more from Darren Matthews.

  • Julie
    2019-01-27 06:18

    Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke Engrossing and laden with atmospheric foreboding-This novel is packed with emotions, thick racial tensions and family dramas. I could almost imagine blues rifts playing in the background as the events in Lark, Texas unfolded. I could envision the town, the people, and feel the intense feeling of dread creeping up on me as the story unfolded. When Michael Wright, a black lawyer from Chicago, stops in the small East Texas town, he never makes it back home. His body was pulled out the nearby bayou, and his fancy car disappeared somewhere along the way. A very short time later, the body of Missy Dale, a local white woman is also found dead. The possibility does exist, considering how small this town is, that the two deaths are connected. Enter, Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, currently on suspension, separated from his wife, in a full -on battle with a whiskey bottle. Darren is given permission to casually visit, sans his badge, Lark, Texas to get the lay of the land. There, he encounters a kindred spirit of sorts in Michael Wright’s widow, who is there to claim her husband’s body. Before long, Darren has slapped his badge back on and finds himself in the midst of a full blown murder investigation. The deaths seem to have a connection to Geneva Sweet, the owner of a local café. It would appear, that Michael Wright stopped by her place, asking some questions, right before he was murdered. Geneva’s past comes sharply into focus as Darren investigates Michael and Missy’s murders, amid rumors that the Aryan Brotherhood may have few contacts within Lark, meaning Missy's angry husband. Bluebird, bluebird, please do this for meOoh, bluebird, please do this for meIf you see my baby, tell her I want her to come back home to me John Lee HookerI could not put this book down!! The mystery is compelling and very suspenseful, but it’s the lush writing, and deep characterizations that really made this novel stand out. Darren cuts quite a figure as a Texas Ranger, with his Stetson hat and boots, but his deep -seated sense of loyalty and all his personal baggage causes him to entertain all manner of self-recriminations, regrets, and self-doubt. But, the history of Lark, the beautiful descriptions of the area, and the musical homage goes a long way toward creating that dense atmosphere where racial hostilities simmer, threatening to boil over. The past will catch up with the present as old buried secrets surface and long overdue justice will finally be served. I really need Attica Locke to write a follow-up to this one, since Darren still has some serious issues to address. I’d love to see this turn into a series, or at the very least a trilogy. Either way, this author has left quite an impression on me. I’m ready to dive into her other novels, ASAP!! 4.5 stars rounded up

  • Esil
    2019-02-17 07:10

    I had to keep reminding myself that Bluebird, Bluebird is set today, and not fifty years ago or so. It's depiction of race relations in rural Texas is reminiscent of books I have read about the Jim Crow era, and is quite bleak to say the least. It's a mystery of sorts. Troubled African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews goes to a small town in East Texas to investigate the seemingly linked murders of a black man and white woman. As the story progresses, it feels like he is peeling back the different layers of a community deeply afflicted by racial violence and hatred. But Locke makes the story more complicated by emphasizing that hatred can sometimes be tightly bound up with love and attraction. It's a smart story, deeply and subtly taking on one of contemporary America's most vexing and ugly realities. At times, I found Darren's own troubled soul to be a bit much -- I don't know why every good fictional detective has to struggle with alcohol and crappy relationships. But the setting and mystery aspect of the story more than make up for this flaw. Well worth reading. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • James Thane
    2019-02-07 00:13

    Darren Mathews is a rarity in that he's a black Texas Ranger. He also has troubles of his own that may cost him his career and his marriage. While his future, both professional and personal, hangs in the balance, Darren finds himself in Lark, a tiny East Texas town out in the middle of nowhere, where the local sheriff suddenly has two homicides on his hands. The first victim was thirty-five-year-old Michael Wright, a black lawyer from Chicago who was found floating in a bayou after being beaten to death. The second, Melissa Dale, was a twenty-year-old married white woman who worked as a waitress at a roadhouse, and who had been seen talking to Wright just before he was killed. Lark is a town with racial divisions and and relationships that go back for decades, and the bar where the waitress worked and where she was seen talking to the black victim, is home to a number of members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Shelby County hasn't had a homicide in years, and when Missy's body is pulled from the bayou three days after Wright's, it's clear that the two crimes must be connected. The logical and and all-too-traditional conclusion that many are ready to jump to, is that a black man committed an act of violence against a white woman and has been summarily punished for his crime. But as Darren realizes, the order in this case is wrong: The black man was killed first. As a second alternative, it's possible that someone was upset about seeing a black man and a white woman "fraternizing" together and thus decided to punish both of them. Or, in fact, the situation could be much more complicated than either of these scenarios.The local hick sheriff would like to see both homicides swept under the rug ASAP, and the last thing he wants is outside interference in his "investigation." But he's forced to allow Darren access, and the Ranger is not about to let this case go until he's satisfied that the solution is correct. Given the forces arrayed against him, however, this will be a virtually impossible and a very dangerous task.This is a beautifully written book with an excellent sense of place. Locke obviously knows the territory very well, and the reader is immediately immersed in this tiny, troubled town. The characters, Darren Mathews in particular, are complex and believable, and the web of relationships between and among them is expertly woven. The story is compelling and tragic, and Locke has a great deal to say about race, class and justice in today's United States. One of the best books I've read in quite a while, and a solid 4.5 stars.

  • Rincey
    2019-01-21 06:21


  • Donna
    2019-01-18 07:11

    "Geneva Sweet ran an orange extension cord past Mayva Greenwood, Beloved Wife and Mother, May She Rest With her Heavenly Father." The first line of this novel caught my attention immediately. What a great beginning! And it only got better from there. Being from Texas, and being very familiar with Houston, Hwy 59, and the tiny little East Texas towns that dot the highway like so many mosquito bites on a redneck's arm, I was quickly drawn to this story of a black Texas Ranger and the two murders he is driven to investigate in an area that still holds on to some old-style traditions. And I don't mean the good kind of traditions. Darren Matthews, Texas Ranger living in Houston, in the midst of an investigation that could mean his job, and a crisis and drinking problem that could affect his marriage, hears of the murders of a black man and a white woman in the little town of Lark in northeast Texas. While on suspension from the Rangers, he decides to check out the situation for himself. What he discovers in this rural setting, is that the stench of white supremacy has overtaken the sweet scent of the area's piney woods. As Ranger Matthews investigates further and gets to know the people in Lark, he uncovers secrets that have been around for years, hiding in plain sight. By the end of the book, an intricate web has been laid bare, as well as a realistic portrait of racial and criminal activities that still happen today - more often than we choose to believe. This book was so well written, that I couldn't put it down. I read it in almost one sitting. Attica Locke has won multiple awards for her other books, and although I haven't read any others by her, that's going to change right away! Her style is descriptive, her characters well-formed and believable. Her use of real locations and her knowledge of the best and the worst of Texas had me smiling with enjoyment or shaking my head with shame throughout the story. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  • Donna
    2019-01-19 23:06

    Climate change, they call it. This keep up and I'll live long enough to see hell on earth, I guess.This story was not what I thought it might be at the start. It went a different route and went deeper, examining prejudice and racial tensions in a way I haven't read about before, seen through the eyes of various people having to cope with it in whatever manner they chose or were forced to choose, whether it was by leaving their home, or by acquiescing to their oppressors, or by doing so only outwardly so they could continue to live in a town they had every bit as much right to inhabit as any other person, their roots going back just as many generations. The main character of this book, Darren Mathews, who graduated from Princeton and had two years of law school under his belt, is a black Texas Ranger with a drinking problem and marital troubles. His wife, Lisa, had been hoping he would become a lawyer instead of essentially becoming an elite cop, in her estimation. But despite the lesser pay and whatever prejudices Darren encounters in his job, he considers it an honor and more of a calling than mere employment, based on a notion he inherited from one of the two uncles who raised him. The nobility is in the fight, son, in all things.Unfortunately, Darren's calling is at risk now. He is on suspension until it is determined whether or not he acted inappropriately when aiding a black friend who was threatened by a white man on the friend's property, the friend calling Darren in to help him instead of calling the police. Darren grew up in East Texas, and as he awaits the jury's decision on his future, he returns there as a favor to a friend in the FBI who wants him to poke around a small town where the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is rumored to have a big hold. He wants Darren to see if two recent deaths might be murder, and if connected, if they are racially motivated, since one victim was a black man who was a stranger to the area, and the other victim was a white woman who lived in that town. Arriving there, Darren finds himself anything but welcome. And as he unofficially investigates the cases and, in particular, the black victim with whom he finds parallels in his own life, a sense of dread sets in, as well as a newfound sense of hope for redemption from all that's gone wrong in his life. If only he can find justice for the victims and for the black townspeople falling under suspicion. Criminal investigations are about more than who's guilty...Ambition gets in the way of the truth.Darren also learns that secrets from the past are whispering louder and louder, begging to be heard. He only needs to give them his voice, but at what cost to this town and the people who inhabit it separately, yet together? Seemed like death had a mind to follow her around in this lifetime. It was a sly shadow at her back, as singleminded as a dog on a hunt; as faithful, too.Besides containing a very good criminal mystery with plenty of twists and flawed but likable characters, this book brings to light social issues very much current in today's political climate in the US. There is plenty here to keep any book club talking and readers wondering when or if hatred in the hearts and minds of certain people will ever cease to exist. There is also some very self-assured writing in this book. It is both polished and realistic. I was glad to be a passenger riding along with this author at the wheel, no backseat driving required. Oh and if you're wondering about the title, it was taken from a song by John Lee Hooker. The lyrics are found here:

  • Cindy Burnett
    2019-02-03 02:00

    4.5 starsBluebird, Bluebird is a complex, multi-layered mystery that takes place in a small East Texas town. The tale is dark, thought-provoking and well-written. I liked but didn’t love the protagonist, Ranger Darren Matthews, who is a bit too troubled but smart and compassionate. The plot’s resolution was believable, and I love the way Attica Locke writes her characters and the setting. Overall, it’s a fabulous book.I live in Texas and have spent a fair amount of time in East Texas. This book was a real struggle for me because Locke’s version of East Texas is drastically different from my own experience. And I guess that is Locke’s point. I live in Houston, a diverse and multicultural city, and I found it depressing and somewhat painful that such overt racism still exists. However, I have reflected on this portion of the book for several weeks and realize that this behavior is clearly occurring all over the United States as is evident in the news and current politics. Hopefully as people continue to speak out and seek change, one day racism will be a bad memory. Bluebird, Bluebird is a tale that made me think and reflect on the state of our country today. I highly recommend it.

  • Monica **can't read fast enough**
    2019-01-17 03:22

    In Bluebird, Bluebird Locke tackles the difficulty of being a black man in the south with education, status, and the drive to make things better. Locke begins to peel back the layers of what it means to call a place that is not always welcoming home. Of being drawn to a place that is hostile to your very existence. Darren and his family have deep roots in Texas. The Mathews family has every right and reason to be proud of their family's legacy that they fought to establish while fighting against people who felt entitled to more and better simply by being born white. Darren's life is as about as complicated as it can get when he becomes entangled in three murder cases that all revolve around issues of race. Darren has been suspended pending an investigation, he and his wife are separated because of differing visions for their future, and Darren's trying to decide which part of the law he wants to fight for. Continue to be a Texas Ranger and fight with his boots on the ground, or finish law school and fight in the courtroom. The cherry on top of this pile of stress is Darren's mother, who is difficult at best, and is making an appearance and making demands in his life. To deal with the mess that his life is becoming, Darren finds himself seeking refuge in bottles of whiskey. When Darren thinks that his life can't get any more complicated, a phone call from a friend sends him to the tiny community of Lark, Texas to poke around in an unofficial capacity. The trip down Highway 59 sets Darren on a path to solving a crime and answering some hard questions about himself that he's been wrestling with.Attica Locke wastes no time locking in her readers in Bluebird, Bluebird. I admit that I was partial to this story in part because of it's location. The story is set in East Texas, which is very familiar to me. My dad's people hail from the ArkLaTex area. That's Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas for those not in the know! My family and family friends still live and love in Texarkana, Shreveport, and Marshall. My family's farm is just minutes from Wiley College which is mentioned in Bluebird, Bluebird. Many of the places mentioned and described in this story were just that much more familiar to me, because I can clearly picture the farm roads, towns, and woods. I can hear the drawls and cadence of the people Locke describes. For me, this entire book felt like home and the Mathews family felt like a reflection of my own. I can barely describe how wonderful it felt to relate that closely to characters in a story. It is a very rare occurrence for me and it means a lot to truly see my reality reflected so clearly. The south is populated by many African American families who made a place for themselves and prospered through hard work and pushing for education despite the hardships and hurdles thrown at them. Unfortunately, we don't always get a realistic look at those kind of families in fiction. I appreciate Locke featuring this type of modern family as the background for Darren. Far from perfect, but reaching for their piece of the American dream. Locke did a wonderful job of encompassing the bits of really good and the really ugly of these southern communities. Close knit communities anywhere are sometimes difficult, but in the southern states, they can be especially complicated. In East Texas, as in many rural places, time has marched on, but the people there aren't growing and evolving with the times as quickly as other places. The tangled web of race, family, and community are all realistically portrayed in this story. The ending of Bluebird, Bluebird clearly suggests that this is the beginning of a series and I certainly hope that Locke gives us many more books featuring these characters. There would be so much to explore with Darren as the protagonist. I almost finished this in one sitting on a road trip and hated to see the story end, even though it was a perfect place to leave off. If you are looking for a good crime story I would recommend picking up Bluebird, Bluebird. Attica Locke is an author who is going to be an auto buy for me. **I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.**You can find me at:•(♥).•*Monlatable Book Reviews*•.(♥)•Twitter: @MonlatReaderInstagram: @readermonicaFacebook: Monica Reeds

  • Tammy
    2019-02-12 04:15

    This is my third Attica Locke novel and the best yet!!! The setting is East Texas with Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, a black man which is rare in that service, traveling to the small town of Lark looking into the unsolved recent deaths of a Chicago black lawyer and a local white woman. What he turns up in the tiny backwoods town is quite unsettling! Decades thick of racial tensions, + deadly secrets.. this book was unputdownable!!

  • Eve
    2019-01-26 05:19

    "The most elemental instinct in human nature is not hate but love, the former inextricably linked to the latter."Phew! I inhaled this book in one sitting. I've spent a whole Sunday in the hot, sticky backwoods of East Texas, and it was scary. I usually avoid anything related to hate crimes and other racially charged themes because it really gets my blood boiling. Injustice stinks. But this had so many aspects of In the Heat of the Night, that it was hard not to put down. I also didn't anticipate many of the plot twists! Guessing right to the end, and that's the way I like it. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, and get to know more about Ranger Mathews.

  • Book Riot Community
    2019-02-17 05:11

    Attica Locke has reached perfection with Bluebird, Bluebird. Suspended Texas Ranger Darren Mathews finds himself traveling to Lark and looking into the murder of a black man from Chicago and a local white woman. The local authorities don’t want any outside help, let alone a black man, poking around their case. But Mathews isn’t one to let things go and he’s tired of being told not to think crimes have anything to do with race. Faced with town secrets, the ABT (Aryan Brotherhood of Texas), his drinking, marital problems, his suspension, and a town where no one seems to want his help, solving these cases may not be enough to help this town or Mathews but that isn’t going to stop him. Locke will have you feeling the Texas heat in more ways than one as the tension vibrates off each page in a way that will, and should, stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.— Jamie Canavesfrom The Best Books We Read In June 2017:

  • Taryn Pierson
    2019-01-27 00:07

    I didn’t expect this to be one of the scarier books on my list this month. I’ve been getting into the Halloween spirit recently with some horror and thrillers, but I picked up this “rural noir” because Attica Locke is an automatic read for me and my turn came up on the library holds list. With Charlottesville fresh in my mind, however, this story of a small town infested with white supremacists was really freaking scary. It’s not like anyone can blithely claim that neo-Nazis are an extinct relic of the past after seeing them marching with tiki torches on the news.Darren Matthews is a black Texas Ranger, and the innate conflict of that identity is always at the forefront of his mind. He knows there are people in his state that take issue with his calling it home. Others wonder why he would choose to stay in a place so poisoned by racist beliefs. While Darren admits it isn’t easy to stay, especially working in law enforcement, he believes deeply in his right to have a say in what Texas is. It’s his home too. Even though his home is a messed up place, as evidenced by a pair of murders Darren is investigating in a small town where the Aryan Brotherhood is alive and well.As is often the case when I read thrillers, I found myself much more interested in Darren as a character than in the solving of the crimes. I like page-turning action as much as the next girl, but what stays with me after I’ve turned the last page is a compelling and complicated central character. Attica Locke did it before with Jay Porter in Black Water Rising and Pleasantville, and again with Caren Gray in The Cutting Season. I am criss-crossing my fingers and toes that she has more plans for Darren Matthews up her sleeve, because that ending opens the door to some drama that is just begging to be explored.More book recommendations by me at

  • Liz Barnsley
    2019-02-03 07:11

    Bluebird Bluebird is a novel of true excellence, in concept, execution, character and incredibly talented writing. It pulls you in from the very first page, tells truth however uncomfortable, leaves you thinking about it for a good few hours afterwards and is one of those books that defies definition.The plot is complex, intelligent and disturbingly realistic – and described much better than I could do justice to in other reviews so I’ll stick to talking about the impact Bluebird Bluebird (taken from the John Lee Hooker song) had on me – that was one of quiet contemplation about the realities of life outside my little bubble of work, school runs, reading and an easy, fairly privileged upbringing.I’m not sure I can get over how vastly emotional the descriptive, beautiful tone of this novel, telling a sad and unfortunately all too authentic story, makes you feel. Darren Matthews, black Texas ranger, facing a range of problems even aside from the causal racism, is a uniquely qualified character to drive the narrative – his experiences, determination, flaws, all form the heart of the story, which is both thriller and thought provoking drama within one vivid and genuine setting.Attica Locke is an engaging, perceptive writer who immerses you into the world she is talking about with beautifully captivating prose, an unsettling sense of feeling and sparking dialogue – it is yes an entertaining read but also an educational one – oh how far we think we have come as humans but oh so far do we still have to go….Highly Recommended.

  • Roy
    2019-01-20 00:55

    3.5 *Well written literary thriller dealing with race, family, love, loyalty and host of other issues. Darren is a very intriguing character. Hes conflicted between being who he is versus what the public perceive him or want him to be. I think because it has such a complicated and convoluted plot, it just didnt do it for me. I kept feeling like I had to re read areas just to make sense of certain plotlines. Emotional novel though, reminding us that family, friends and strangers are sometimes what we hope and not hope to be.

  • Jeanette
    2019-01-24 23:11

    Crisp charged emotion - no extra words and with focused flavors of dozens of overlapping feelings. Locale specifics are nuance immense. But the characterizations even better. All of them. Tense. Sweaty. All have subversive interlocking secrets and baggage of both regrets and sorrow. Also Attica Locke is absolutely superb on dialog and body placements, car movements, all the "sight lines"- which are very seldom done half as well in fiction print. It's just the perfect length, has an ending which satisfies while leading the reader to a rather dicey anticipation of sorts (this has to be continued with Darren's Mom, Bell Callis, and the myriad of interconnections to the characters and prior events/crimes formerly placed here.) She sure can write and dice up all the slants to fear, home longings, rituals, shapes and their names, most of which are never what they seem. And yet some are more. All surrounding racial, familial, historical legacies. Others like this book the best of hers. I thought Cutting Season was just as good myself. But I think she's gone so far over the top with Cookie on Empire that's she has completely lost me there. Being through that part of Texas twice in the last 4 or 5 years- I can honestly say with all the places we stopped to sit or just to stay and sample some "fried pies"- none of them were like Geneva's. Or Wally's either. But I have read non-fiction which names the main North/South hwy to Galveston from Houston as the "Homicide Highway". This one gives you an insight for 2 or 3 at least.

  • David Yoon
    2019-02-10 04:22

    Darren Matthews is a Texas Ranger. He's also on suspension, drinking a little too heavily and clearly on the outs with his wife. And he's black.Pulled into the tiny town of Lark to look into a double homicide where nothing is as it's seems. It's a local white girl and an affluent, out of town black man. Attica Locke is here to explore the tensions between rural and urban blacks, race in the South, justice and how it splits alongs color lines and the simmering reality of the Aryan Brotherhood. I'm usually on board for this kind of exploration but I felt Bluebird, Bluebird stumbled within the confines of it's purported genre. It didn't entirely work as a detective story or a thriller and instead read like the first arc of a longer serial.

  • Roman Clodia
    2019-01-25 05:56

    My first Attica Locke and what appears to be the start of a series, this is a blistering look at contemporary race politics in small-town Texas - and could hardly be more timely in the wake of white supremacy and anti-fascist clashes across the country. As a Londoner, I found this book profoundly shocking in its depiction of 'everyday racism': that a black man *today* should have to think carefully about how (or whether?) he speaks to a white woman in case he's accused of sexual harrassment (or worse); that a self-imposed apartheid might exist where the black characters eat in one place, the white in another; that descendants of the KKK can openly exist with the sickening initiation ritual of killing and skinning a black man; that, in effect, the old 'Jim Crow' south still exists in pockets - and one of the unspoken spin-offs is that Locke made me understand how a Trump could be voted in.The vehicle for this incisive race commentary is the deaths of an out of state black lawyer and a local white woman - and Darren, a black Texas Ranger who grew up locally, comes to investigate. He's an attractive character, lightly troubled, and complicating the race schematics through his background and authoritative status. The untangling of what really led to the deaths is somewhat unsatisfactory as it depends on dead characters who we never meet having a central role to play, and some of the characterisation feels flimsy at best. Nevertheless, Locke's exposure of the inner workings of this small-town (population: 170) Texan town is compulsive and terrifying in equal measure. A writer I would certainly read again.Thanks to Profile Books for an ARC via NetGalley.

  • Thebooktrail
    2019-02-13 02:00

    I’d really felt moved and immersed in every single one of Attica Locke’s novels.This is a world I’ve never known and although she pens fictional stories they are not too far from the truth and reveal the segregation and the racial tensions which have stained American towns. I always feel as if I’m in one of the most fascinating history lessons where you soak up the emotions, tensions, characters and nuances of the time but never feel overcome or tired by the detail. The devil is in the detail to use a worn phrase and this devil is working his way into the hearts of everyone around him.Full review nearer the time but put this on your TBR pile This is a unique way of storytelling, and I spent a while afterwards looking up some of the laws and terms used to understand even more of the time and placeExquisitely drawn and a force to be reckoned with

  • Chessa
    2019-02-17 03:00

    Aaaaggggggghhhhhhh!This is the first book I’ve read by Attica Locke, but wow, it will not be my last! The writing is gorgeous, and the mystery is so taut. Darren Matthews is the perfect flawed protagonist - there is nothing simple about this man. This is a book that gently but unforgivinigly brings to the forefront so many of the festering wounds of racial inequality in our past and present here in America, and illustrates how they can have brutal and far-reaching consequences.I can’t wait to read more by Locke (and I’ve got my fingers crossed that perhaps we’ll see Matthews again in future books!)Also: THAT ENDING THO! What a gut punch.

  • Perri
    2019-02-14 07:21

    I started this book when I was reading three others. I quickly abandoned those to concentrate on this one which demanded and received my total attention. What an astute observer of human nature, Locke seems to be. Here's an example'"She managed a wan smile, a reflexive expression of gratitude that women can muster even when they're in pain" I knew exactly what that meant. I powered through this book in two days... loved it. Five stars for sure. Then, the ending. why?Edit: I'm still thinking about this book....and thinking I need to change my rating up to 4.9 stars. I liked it so much while reading it, so was harsher than I needed to be because I didn't like the ending. Locke I would have read the next book, so question! So please don't do that again ;)

  • Jamie Canaves
    2019-02-04 01:16

    Best 2017 mysteryThis is Locke’s best work, which is saying something since she wrote for the hit TV show Empire AND has three great previous novels. This time around, Locke introduces us to a black Texas Ranger who is technically on suspension after an attempt to be a good samaritan backfired on him. That doesn’t stop him, though, from needing to figure out how a black man and white woman were murdered in a small Texas town. It’s the kind of town that holds dearly to its racism and secrets and wants no outside help, especially from a black man. We may be leaving the heat behind for fall weather, but Locke’s amazing writing will have you slicked in sweat as she places you in Texas. A fantastic mystery from beginning to end that unfortunately could not be more timely in its look at race and the justice system in the U.S.--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: Innocent Man Saved from Death Penalty by CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM & More!

  • Rana
    2019-02-14 04:06

    Like all the best thrillers but with such an amazing race lens. Attica Locke is an auto-read.

  • Heather
    2019-01-22 23:58

    A mystery for woke folk (and those who are trying to be more so...) but it doesn't feel like homework. It feels like you're watching a really good Netflix drama (I'm not surprised the author has written for television...and I do mean that as a high compliment). Treat yo'self today, and if your mind happens to expand in the process, win-win.

  • Leah
    2019-01-22 00:12

    Thought-provoking...African-American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is on suspension when a colleague asks him to look into a case in the small town of Lark in East Texas. Two murders have been committed – a black male lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman, and the racial tensions which were already simmering in the town look like they might explode. It's up to Darren to try to find out what happened before more violence erupts... but there are people in the town who don't want old secrets disturbed and will go to any length to stop him.The book is very well written and the plot is interesting, revolving around the various relationships, open and hidden, amongst the people of this small town. Fundamentally, it's a book about racism and veers towards being too overt in its message-sending, but for the most part the excellent characterisation and sense of place carry it over this flaw. It has something of the feel of an updated version of In the Heat of the Night, with Darren mistrusted and almost ostracised by the white power-brokers of the town, having to act as a lone hero standing up for the black residents against an institutionally racist system and a bunch of terrifying white supremacists. However, Darren is no Virgil Tibbs – he's on suspension for acting as a maverick, he has a drink problem and his marriage is on the rocks, surely proving convincingly (and rather tediously) that there's very little difference between black and white detectives in contemporary fiction.Had I read this a year ago, I'd have been saying it dramatically overstates the racial divide in the US. But after the last few months of sons of bitches and very fine people, I found it frighteningly possible. However – and I'm going to get polemical myself here – while I understand why people who are victims of any form of oppression are likely to develop opposite prejudices, I can't say I'm much fonder of anti-white racism than anti-black. There is not a single decent white person in this book, and conversely there are no bad black people. When a black person occasionally does something morally dubious, it's made clear that they've been more or less forced into it by society's racism against them. The white people however are simply racist with no real attempt to consider why this might be so. Of course, sometimes this form of exaggeration can work in literary terms to highlight an issue, but I can't feel that it moves the debate on – it's more of a simple protest, maybe a howl of pain. I can see it feeding into both black outrage and liberal white hand-wringing, but I have to ask, given the state of America as seen from distant Scotland, do either of those things really need feeding at this point? Personally, I feel something more nuanced – more perceptive of the underlying reasons for the polarisation of American society – would be more useful. But then, I'm not a black American and Attica Locke is...The result of this was that I began to find the portrayal of the town less credible as the book went on. The action takes place mainly in two places – a café where the black people hang out, and a bar where the white supremacists gather. Where are the other townsfolk? Even if they were irrelevant to the plot, I'd have liked to feel that they existed – to see them at least out of the corner of my eye. Maybe all white people in East Texas really are white supremacists, and maybe all black people do spend all day every day in a café scared of being killed, but I found myself progressively less convinced. This might all make it sound as if I hated the book, but I didn't. The quality of the writing and the flow of the story kept me engaged, and if I weren't a political animal I probably wouldn't have been so conscious of what I saw as a lack of nuance in the portrayal of the racism. It's all down to timing – at another time, say, a year ago, I would probably have been saying this makes for an excellent wake-up call for people who, like me, had come to think that America was finally getting over the legacy of slavery. But we've surely all woken up now and therefore it feels somehow redundant, or perhaps even part of the problem, as each side continues to stand on the moral high ground throwing rocks at the other side.I realise this has been more of a political statement than a book review. But perhaps if the book serves a purpose beyond entertainment, and I'm sure Locke intends that it should, it's to stir rational debate. I certainly recommend it – as you can tell, I found it thought-provoking even if I'm not convinced my thoughts are the ones Locke intended to provoke. But stripping my political venting out, I also found it an enjoyable and well written read.NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Mulholland

  • Lata
    2019-01-21 01:12

    Layers of secrets coupled with racism complicate two cases that Ranger Darren Mathews investigates in a small town in rural Texas. There’s a lot of sadness and anger running through the individuals Darren interacts with, and Darren has his own conflicts with the Texas Rangers thanks to a case before the Grand Jury, and his family’s expectations. The story was twisty enough to keep my interest, but the background against which the cases take place as well as the characters made this a really good book.

  • Skip
    2019-01-26 05:24

    Deep dark secrets and racial tensions galore. A black lawyer from Chicago visits a small East Texas town, and his beaten, drowned body is found in the local bayou, near Geneva's Sweet Shop. Shortly thereafter, a local white woman is also found dead. Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, currently on suspension, is given permission to look into the deaths, thinking two deaths in such a short time in a tiny town is not just a coincidence. Matthews has a crumbling marriage, and finds a kindred spirit in the black lawyer's widow, who wants the guilty party or parties punished. Matthews thinks there is a racial angle, seeing the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas wherever he goes. Well written, taut and suspenseful. I look forward to more from Attica Locke.

  • Teresa
    2019-02-10 05:57

    Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke is a novel about a black Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, who finds himself investigating two murders which have occurred in the tiny Texas backwater of Lark. The two victims are a visiting black man from Chicago, and a local white woman. Racial tensions are close to boiling point in the district, which has a history of race related murders and tension between the black and white communities. The investigation has been made all the more difficult for Darren, because he has been suspended from duty and can no longer wear his badge. Operating undercover in a town that appears to be run by crooked cops and with a suspicion of allegiance by the white community of Lark to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, Darren finds his life threatened and his loyalties questioned. I loved this book. In Bluebird Bluebird Attica Locke tells an important story, one that you would imagine should be set back in the America of the 1960's but which is in fact, sadly, very relevant in the America of today, where in many areas of the country racial tension runs high and is very much a part of our daily news. And into this simmering pot of racial tension walks a young black man who is carrying a whole heap of baggage on his back - a growing drink problem, a marriage in crisis, and a career as a Texas Ranger in doubt - seeking truth and justice in a town where everyone carries a secret buried deep in their heart and will go to any length to protect it.Attica Locke is a born storyteller, in fact she is an award winning novelist, her debut novel Black Water Rising won both the Edgar Award in 2010 and the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Her books are noir thrillers which explore the subject of racism in America, they stir our emotions, and cause us to ask difficult questions of ourselves, important questions. I believe Attica Locke's books should be carried in every public library and required reading on every secondary school curriculum not just in America but in all throughout the world. Thank you to NetGalley for my free e-copy of this book in return for my review.

  • Jessica Woodbury
    2019-01-28 03:58

    That race is a constant undercurrent in Attica Locke's new novel is no surprise to anyone who's read her previous books. She is masterful at looking at the fear, hatred, and power struggles that are rarely spoken aloud but allowed to slowly take over people's lives. She's done it again in BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD in a way that feels fresh, a book that considers the way one crime can haunt you.Darren Mathews is a Texas Ranger with a complex backstory. Immediately we're plunged into the thick of a particularly tumultuous moment in his life, his badge on the verge of suspension after an effort to be a good samaritan ended up making him a witness in a murder investigation. Being a Ranger instead of a lawyer has made him a disappointment to his wife and the uncle who raised him. They don't understand Darren's reasons, and for much of the book neither do we, it's only gradually that we see why it is Darren is so committed to such a potentially dangerous and problematic job.Darren manages to finagle his way into an investigation in the small town of Lark where a black man and a white woman have been found dead in the same bayou just days apart. Lark is the kind of self-segregated Southern small town where all the black folks eat at one place and all the white folks eat at the other and showing up as the wrong color can end badly. Darren's looking for evidence of a white supremacist gang, and he runs into plenty of stonewalling from the white local sheriff and a well-off businessman. But Darren's badge doesn't win him many friends in the black side of town either.A good procedural/thriller like this one should have a sizable list of suspects, a series of twists and turns, a main character who is never quite sure where he stands, and an ending that feels solid and satisfying but also unexpected. BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD delivers exactly that, and plenty more in atmosphere and character development. It's a good old page-turner, I always have to force myself to slow down when I read Locke's novels and let myself drink it in. As usual, the world of this small town builds up vividly around you. I always enjoy diving into the Texas and Louisiana of Locke's books, I can feel the humidity rising off the page.