Having just read Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke last week, I was thrilled to see it won the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel.

Bluebird, Bluebird is a tale of racial tensions, forbidden love, and many blurred lines. Although it has been touted as a thriller, it actually qualifies as a mystery because of the pacing and the fact that “who done it” isn’t revealed until the end.

Darren Mathews is a Texas Ranger. When we meet him, he has been suspended because he came to the aid of a family friend during a conflict without following protocol. Even worse, two days later the man who caused the conflict ended up dead. Darren’s wife, who wants him to be a lawyer instead of a law man, has left him as well. When locals discover a black man and a white woman dead in a little town in East Texas, Darren is more than happy to put some space between himself and his problems, and go there to investigate.

The two murders may or may not be related. What is certain is that race is a factor, which pits Darren, who is black, against the local sheriff.  Thrown into the mix is the murdered man’s wife, a volatile outsider who tramples on the conventions that have ruled in this small, rural town for many years.

Author Attica Locke grew up in East Texas, and she has used her experiences to create a rich, visceral setting. Pine trees, red soil, and a bayou add a realistic backdrop to the drama unfolding there.

Locke is also a talented wordsmith.  She is both a screenwriter and an award-winning novelist. She was a writer/producer on Empire. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was also nominated for an Edgar, among other honors.

“The smile was gone now, and in its place Keith wore a look of utter contempt, married with rage as poorly caged as a bull in a rusty pen. His body had raised the temperature in the room by a few degrees.”

Her words have such a driving rhythm. Can’t you just picture the anger coming off of him?

Bluebird, Bluebird is a trip down Highway 59 with a masterful author at the wheel. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

More great things to come:

Bluebird, Bluebird is the first of a planned trilogy. It is currently being adapted for a series called Highway 59 on FX.