“Bluebird, Bluebird” is a mystery novel that arrived on retail shelves this past September. I bought a copy the first week, but I’ve just got a chance to read it this week. It’s written by Attica Locke, a writer and producer for the hit show Empire. With a pedigree like that, penning this book was almost like cheating.
Some critical acclaim ->
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Washington Post 10 Best Thrillers and Mysteries of 2017
A Kirkus Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017
Let’s dig into it:
First of all, there are some serious racial overtones to this book. Darren Matthews, the book’s main character is a Texas Ranger who is sent to a small Texas town to investigate a murder. Matthews specializes in crimes that have a racial component. The town of Lark is awash with racial tension, especially after two bodies – one White and one Black fuel a downward spiral of finger-pointing and wagon circling. The book waxed a bit preachy for me at times. Admittedly, I lost the mystery in it all. The town is split almost in half along racial lines and that didn’t seem plausible. Perhaps, it is though. I never visited the rural South.
The author’s choice of characterizations are anything but subtle. The main character wears boots, drives a truck, has an alcohol problem and begins the book on suspension. Typical flawed protagonist. The first suspect is a tattooed, bad dude from the Aryan Brotherhood.
The writing style is the saving grace of this novel. Locke describes the setting as “a line that runs through the heart of East Texas, a thread on the map that ties together small towns like knots on a string, from Laredo to Texarkana, on the northern border. For black folks born and bred in rural communities along the highway’s north-south route, Highway 59 has always represented an arc of possibility, hope paved and pointing north.” The author’s pace is terse and swift. The detective work is standard for this genre and draws heavily on literary conventions. This would be a perfect mystery for people who don’t read many mystery novels. Yet, if you are a fan of the mystery genre, this book might come across as run of the mill.
My overall verdict –
3 out of 5 stars.
- Jessica Trueman