Bluebird, Bluebird took me to a place that is completely unfamiliar to me: East Texas. Apparently it is its own little world; Wikipedia says “East Texas is a distinct cultural, geographic and ecological area in the state” and “is often considered the westernmost extension of the Deep South.” Lark, Texas, the fictional heart of the book, is a town with a history of racism that looms over all the events of the novel. Two bodies have been found in Lark the span of one week – one black man and one white woman, with no apparent connection between them. Into town comes Darren Mathews, a suspended African-American Texas Ranger who has not been sent there by his superiors, but rather on a tip from a friend at the FBI. Even though Mathews is there unofficially, he jumps into the case, perhaps as an escape from his foundering marriage or perhaps because of his strong desire for justice. At his own peril, he takes on the county sheriff and the local whites who want to sweep the murders under the rug.
Attica Locke, an East Texas native, really knows her territory. She has created an atmospheric, tense, compelling story that delves into the racial tensions simmering in the South. Her writing is filled with cultural details, from each character’s dialect to the blues songs that thread through the story. She doesn’t provide any easy answers or pat solutions, but a thought-provoking, suspenseful tale. Take a journey to Texas with her, and get immersed in this intriguing story.