I spent more than ten years in Texas and a decent portion of that – a couple years anyway – was spent in East Texas. So when I read Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke, I wanted to share it in my Wednesday Review.
I was not familiar with Locke and after reading a bit on her, she’s accomplished as a screenwriter and novelist.
The book revolves around murders in Lark, Texas. There’s a real Lark in Texas, but this fictional Lark is in Shelby County, Texas. It caught my attention because it is near Lufkin and Nacogdoches, both towns I’m familiar with, and Center, Texas is, well, in the center of Shelby County. I’d spent time there, too.
None of that matters though. What matters is story and Locke put together a masterful one with Bluebird, Bluebird.
Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger investigating the murder of a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman in rural Lark.
Racial tension is simmering and Locke handles it masterfully. There are some mystery/thriller stereotypes – Mathews’ marriage is struggling and he’s having problems with alcohol, but these are handled exceedingly well and serve to advance the character.
It is a thriller and a mystery of excellent proportions. I found its portrayal of Texas Rangers, law enforcement in Texas in general, and small-town West Texas life to be spot on.
And I’ll say this. Having lived in small town West Texas, serving as the editor and publisher of small weekly rural newspapers, I felt like I was right back there covering cops, deputies, highway patrol, and occasionally Texas Rangers as they did their jobs in their uniquely Texan way.
I’d been on the lookout for a while for a small town police procedural. As a newspaper publisher of small-town papers back in the day, I learned that police work in a town of a couple thousand is quite different than it is in a town of a few hundred thousand.
Plus, small-town and rural life fascinate me and I’ve always felt there’s a lot more there to explore than currently found in police procedurals.
Locke nailed it. A great police procedural in a rural setting I was familiar with.
I found the book through a Google search of “small town police procedurals” and will admit to not buying it, but checking it out from the Nashville Public Library.
In my humble opinion, Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is well worth your time.
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