Like the legacy bestowed by the Texas Blues music forming its backbone, the tragedy at the core of Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird is worthy of no less than Shakespeare himself. Told in lyrical prose at an unremitting yet leisurely pace, this novel marks the beginning of the Highway 59 series and readers are bound to take notice.
Bluebird, Bluebird opens with black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews on the witness stand testifying about his actions during a previous standoff between citizens. With connections to the ABT (Aryan Brotherhood of Texas), this situation has resulted in Darren’s temporary leave of absence from the Rangers and may just be the end of his career – if not his very life.
Asked by a colleague and friend to travel to East Texas to unofficially inquire about two recent deaths in the town of Lark, Darren agrees against his better judgment. These two suspicious deaths have occurred too closely – both in time and in location – to be a coincidence. Oddly, however, the first death was of a visiting black man, followed by the death of a local white woman. Historically, one would expect the white death to proceed that of a black man. In this case, both victims are revealed to have ties to two local businesses – Geneva Sweet’s Sweet Shop and the local icehouse bar.
Eventually, with the widow of the first victim by his side, Darren Mathews looks into the root causes of these unusual deaths. What he finds will take him deep into the history of the area and the culture of its people. Despite working off the books, Darren uses his skills at investigation to piece together the truth of what happened on this dusty stretch of road cutting a path through Texas and time.
Music plays such an important role throughout the crime fiction genre and here Attica Locke adds another link to the chain. Not only does music play a part in the novel’s plot, but it also hums beneath the surface as a unifying force for the words on the page.
Darren Mathews is a character worthy of a series. He is conflicted about his career path, has complex personal relationships, and more than a few inner demons; but he is also a man with integrity, grit, and a healthy dose of compassion. Readers will enjoy meeting him in Bluebird, Bluebird, but it is obvious that there is still much to be uncovered about him as he continues to journey along the Texas highway.
The framing device – the case that puts Darren’s Texas Ranger career in jeopardy – returns as a coda at the end of Bluebird, Bluebird, putting into place a plot thread that will continue into the next novel in Attica Locke’s Highway 59 series. Readers will be more than ready to hitch a ride on that journey – destination, unknown.
Disclaimer: A copy of this title were provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.