Cover Image: Bluebird, Bluebird

Bluebird, Bluebird

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Member Reviews

Thank you for the opportunity to read this. I will be posting a full review to Goodreads, Amazon, and Instagram.
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I loved Bluebird, Bluebird! I think it has potential to be a classic mystery/thriller - it was powerful *and* suspenseful. Solid story, great character descriptions. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
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Really superb. The topic of racism is uncomfortable but needs to be addressed rather than ignored. This book does an excellent job of it while keeping you entertained. Will be reading more from this author. He's definitely one to put on your shelves.
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This book won all kinds of awards and you can read elaborate book reviews online if you want. I found the book a bit difficult because I know so little of the cultural and racial intimacies of East Texas. The story is a daunting one which twists history and family and the ways that differing aspirations can tear a family apart.

Texas Ranger Darren Mathews is trying to be a good man and a good lawman, but he is fighting the bottle and his wife, who thought she was marrying a lawyer, not a cop. Darren is losing the fight, and despite his great skills as an investigator, he is slowly losing the respect of his superior officers and his colleagues. He takes on a case in a distant town, as a kind of break, or working vacation from his other stresses. Of course, this would not be a good story if the case did not prove to be complex and dangerous.

The book is definitely worth the read, especially as an intro to the 2019 follow-on "Heaven, My Home", which I enjoyed even more than this  one.
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What a wonderful book. We read this book as the first mystery in a new book club I run at my public library. Everyone loved it. It has that sleepy southern swampy vibe. It was a smart mystery and so good. I am going to be reading the second one soon. Attica Locke is an author I am watching for now.
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I found myself really enjoying this book, as it takes place in rural Texas in current times, and addresses some well worn issues, such as racism and how that permeates the justice system and society at large. 

An African American Texas Ranger takes on a double murder and unearths some secrets in a small Texas town. It's a complex novel that will get you thinking about the hurdles that minorities face when working in systems that are inherently stacked against them. 

Thanks to #NetGalley for an opportunity for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
A solid 4 stars!
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An excellent mystery soaked in social commentary about the racism that still exists in small-town America that will shake you, and perhaps awaken you. I couldn't put this down. 

The title comes from the John Lee Hooker blues song:

'Bluebird, please, take this letter down south for me
Oh, bluebird, take this letter down south for me
Don't you two stop flyin' till you find little Liza Belle for me
Lord, she way down, she's way down in Jackson, Tennessee
Bluebird, she's way down south in Jackson, Tennessee
She may not be home, but, please, knock upon her door
Bluebird, bluebird, please, do this for me
Oh, bluebird, please, do this for me
If you see my baby, tell her I want her to come back home to me.'

I received an ebook copy of this first mystery in the Highway 59 series from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review, in anticipation of the publication of book two: Heaven, My Home, which I can't wait to read now!
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Attica Locke’s mysteries are consistently excellent, so when I found a review copy for this first entry in her Highway 59 series, I felt as if I had struck gold. Big thanks go to Net Galley and Mulholland books. This book is for sale now. 

Darren Matthews is a Black Texas Ranger, and he’s in big trouble. He’s suspended from the force, and his wife Lisa has thrown him out of the house until he cleans up his act. She doesn’t want to be married to a man that is so careless of his own health and safety; if he takes a desk job and quits drinking, he can come home to his family. But right now he’s on his own, and right now he’s still drinking, and it is in the process of moving from one drink to another that he meets Randie, the recent widow of Michael Wright. The official story the local sheriff tells is that Michael killed Missy Dale, a Caucasian woman whose body was dragged from the swamp behind Geneva’s bar, and then himself. The only problem with that theory, Darren discovers, is that Michael died before Missy. Darren thinks they were both murdered. 

As Darren goes deeper into the case, after receiving short-term, conditional support from his boss, he finds more elements that suggest a murder and subsequent cover-up. He’s closer to the truth; the sheriff and another local big-shot are closer to apoplexy; and he’s less likely to go home to Lisa. 

Attica Locke is one of a handful of consistency brilliant mystery writers in the US. Her capacity to carry me to the murky rural South and create taut suspension that makes me lean forward physically as I follow the story is matchless. I’ve read more than a hundred other books between her earlier work and this one, yet I still remember the characters, the setting, and above all, that brooding, simmering dark highway. This is what sets her apart from other authors in an otherwise crowded field. 

I also like the way she addresses racism, and here Darren investigates the role of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas; I ache as I read of the continuous injustice that Darren, Michael, and so many others face both within this story and in real life. And I want to cheer when Darren says that he will never leave, because the ABT and other White Supremacy groups don’t get to decide what Texas is. It is as much his story as it is theirs, and he will fight for it. 

“Darren had always wanted to believe that theirs was the last generation to have to live that way, that change might trickle down from the White House. When, in fact, the opposite had proven true. In the wake of Obama, America had told on itself.”

Darren risks his life once again in his determination to dig up the rotten hidden truth and lay it out in the sun where everyone can see it. The ruling scions of Lark are equally determined to prevent him from doing it. The intensity of this thing is off the charts, but fortunately I know this author’s work well enough not to start reading it close to bedtime, because once I am into the book’s second half, I will have to finish it before I can do anything else, including sleep. 

The good news for me and for other Locke fans is that this is the beginning of a series. I received this galley after publication, and now the second of the Highway 59 series, Heaven, My Home, is slated for release in September. 

Highly recommended.
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I absolutely loved this book.  The main character felt like I knew him.  The small town politics and the big fish in a little pond mentality is familiar to anyone who has lived in a small town.  The Ranger's demons kept him conflicted and made it easy for us to want him to win the battle.  There were several story lines that I didn't see coming...the baby's father especially...but that made the book even better.  This is one of the books that when I finished it, I really wanted to know what happened to everyone after the last page.  Great, great, great book.
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This novel won Attica Locke an Edgar Award and presents the story of a black Texan ranger. This is more than a mystery book, by delving into delicate issues about race and identity. Racial tensions are at the heart of this book, while we follow our protagonist's investigation into the death of a  black male lawyer from Chicago and of a local white waitress whose bodies washed ashore. Locke plays with issues such as the contrasting notions of justice hold by the black law enforcement and the white public officials, but there are no black and white truths being put forward, only multiple layers and shades by which one's identity is portrayed. This is a fantastic gain for the thriller genre, often accused of offering superficial and light reading.
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"Bluebird Bluebird" by Attica Locke is a well-constructed racial murder mystery set in small town Texas that nicely twists and turns with an ending that opens up to a potential sequel.

The story starts with Darren, a rare black Texas Ranger, defending himself on the stand for his response to an older black man shooting a known white supremacist in self-defense. While on probation, he learns that a body of a black man and a young white woman washed ashore two days apart in nearby Lark. He weasels himself into the investigation and learns the male victim had traveled from Chicago to give an ex-musician an old guitar as part of his uncle's last wishes. Darren feels a close connection to the victim who had graduated from the law school he had once attended but didn't finish, as his wife brings up a lot. It turns out the ex-musician, Joe Sweet, had been murdered years before in the diner owned by his 70-something wife, Geneva. It's also the diner the female victim had been a waitress. As Darren puts together the pieces of the two victims and how their lives intertwined one night at the diner with its own controversial history, he tries to deal with what's left of his career, his marriage, and his desire to solve the crime.

Though not a fan of racial murder mystery, I enjoyed this story because the pacing was even with flawed characters that are still likable. Also an FX drama is in the works, so it'll be interesting to see how the characters leap off the page onto the screen.
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I am deeply ashamed of the review I am about to write here. 

Ashamed because my words cannot do justice to Attica Locke's writing and prose.

Bluebird, Bluebird is basically your classic "Whodunnit" novel. Except that it's not. Far away from it.

Let's talk quickly about the "mystery" aspect of the book. 
Locke writes in the traditions of Dennis Lehane and Greg Iles, only good! (i'm sorry about this one, Iles and Lehane are tremendous writers, but Locke blows them out of the water, in my humble opinion). 
The story is tight and well crafted, the details are important and Locke provides just enough back story and details to leave us guessing until the end. That part alone should have you get your credit card out of your wallet and run off to your local independant bookstore and pickup a copy.

God Almighty, what a voice!! What a powerful literary voice Attica Locke is.
This novel, of the utmost importance in today's political landscape, is written in such a beautiful way that it had me shed a tear or two. 
Locke's writing feels so real and is so deeply encrusted in today's reality that even though I live in a very multicutural and multiethnic place where I witness practically zero of the themes covered in this novel, I could feel the reality of it all crushing me like a punch in the face.
Locke seems to master East Texas the same way Ron Rash masters Appalachia and the same way Stephen King masters Maine. 

She is that good.

I will definitely pick it up one more time in a not so distant futur and read it, slowly, pacing myself, just to enjoy Attica Locke's prose and writing.

God, what a voice.
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Thank you for a copy of this book.  I understand this book was well loved, and wanted to give this a try.  Unfortunately gritty detective novels have never been my thing and it appears to continues to be that way.
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After reading reviews and getting recommendations for Bluebird, Bluebird, I was instantly hooked. Being from the Deep South, seeing an author’s perspective on the subject is always interesting to me. 

In Bluebird, Bluebird, a Black Texas Ranger is tipped off about two consecutive murders in a rural Texas town. After traveling to the bayou in which the bodies were found, the Ranger suspects that the two murders are connected and dives into solving the case. 

With themes of race, family, and small town social politics, the fast-paced story keeps you guessing and is very entertaining. I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of detective mystery.
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When I saw this book up for grabs on Netgalley, I was intrigued. I had read it was being turned into an FX series. Interesting. It deals with a long forgotten old mystery. Double interesting. 
I found the main characters engaging and was happy to see that along with a tv series I'll be sure to catch, there's already been a second book announced for a hopefully long book series. 
Thanks, Netgalley
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I wonderful story that intertwines the complicated workings of race relations with an edge of your seat mystery.  Writing is super captivating and the story feels very original.  Author has done a wonderful job of creating a real sense of place as well as developing full characters.  Most importantly, the end is very satisfying.
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Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead. 

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. 

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it's stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes - and save himself in the process - before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
My take....

An interesting and entertaining read and my first taste of Attica Locke's work.

Two deaths in Lark, East Texas, one black, one white and Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger wants to investigate. Even though he's in a bit of trouble with his bosses, an investigation is what we get.

Racial undertones, a small divided community, a hostile welcome from both sides, a drink problem, a suspension, an earlier incident, marital difficulties - more than one, family histories - more than one, job insecurity, infidelity, power, privilege, standing, politics, perceptions, white supremacists - the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, interviews, reluctance, forced cooperation, local law enforcement, violence, drugs, previous deaths, motive, secrets, stored resentments, a lot more besides and eventually answers.

I quite liked the book overall. The initial set-up of the crimes kind of leads you to believe that there is a rather simple motive and solution to the crimes, which inevitably then has you feeling the opposite is the truth. All is revealed at the end and one of the characters who is a little bit hinky throughout is part of the denouement. There's nothing I could quite put my finger on about him, other than he was a bit off.

I liked the setting, which with it's race divisions offers plenty of scope for drama. I'm not too sure if I enjoyed the main character's company or not. Darren Mathews is flawed - inevitably. He's rather too fond of the drink which effects his judgement and spills over into his working life. He's committed to his work and has a thirst (not only for booze) but justice. His family history relating to his uncles and his upbringing are important to him and have helped mould him. His mother is the wild card. His wife is tired, impatient and not too understanding.

The investigation seemed to be a little too personal for him, there's a lack of objectivity on display and what was he thinking allowing one of the victim's wife to get so close both to him personally and to his enquiries. That said it's all part of the outsider element trying to penetrate a small community.

Post-investigation, Locke serves up another twist, which I kind of feel is going to feature at some point in a future book further down the line. (The second Highway book featuring Darren Mathews - Heaven, My Home drops later this year.) It was a twist I could have done without TBH. I'm not especially a fan of this kind of snare/writer tactic to keep a reader hooked. If anything it makes me dig my heels in and switch off.

On balance, I found a lot more to like and enjoy than grumble about. I enjoyed the writing, the plot worked, the characters had substance and flesh and were more than stereotypes. I guess I'll read the next in the series if I cross paths with it, as I like the blurb I've seen. I don't think I'd be too bothered about back-tracking on the author's previous books.

4 from 5

Read in April, 2019
Published - 2017
Page count - 249
Source - Net Galley, courtesy of publisher Mulholland Books
Format - ePub read on laptop.
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Locke does an incredible job of transporting the reader to the Deep South - where racial division and violence run rampant. This novel follows the story of a Texas Ranger who becomes involved in the double homicide investigation of a black man from Chicago and a local, white girl whose bodies both wash up in the same place on the bayou. Locke's main character, Darren, is a black man who faces major resistance while trying to solve the case. He's an admirable character who feels compelled to find justice for the victim (who could just as well have been him). Locke creates a suspenseful, dangerous world for her characters, but the action does feel a little slow to build. Anyone looking for a fast-paced thriller might find this boring, but readers who appreciate a fully-realized and inhabitable setting will enjoy Locke's work.
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Rating:   5 stars

‘Bluebird, Bluebird’ is a wonderful Literary Thriller written by Attica Locke.  Even though Literary Thriller may not be a recognized book genre, it’s an apt designation for THIS book.  Locke has written a mystery which also contains lots of food for thought as to how racism, in Texas at least, hasn't appreciably improved for African Americans in the recent decades.  Even though we’ve had a black President, the deck of law-enforcement, for the most part, is still stacked against the black residents in this story.   It’s a thought provoking book about the tight-rope being walked by black US citizens in order to stay out the penal system, and out of the sightlines of hate groups.   It’s also an entertaining mystery.   

This is the first book Locke’s, ‘Highway 59’ series.  It takes place along Highway 59 in rural East Texas.  The body of a black lawyer from Chicago washes up from the bayou.  He obviously didn’t die from natural causes.   Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger who is on the verge of being suspended and perhaps booted off the force.  He is called in unofficially, by a long-time friend of his, to investigate the murder.  As Mathew’s arrives in the town of Lark, a second body washes up.  This time the victim is a local white woman.  The plot quickens and Mathews finds himself trying to protect the widow of the black victim from cultural forces she doesn’t understand, like the Aryan Brotherhood, and solve the mystery of the deaths. 

Mathews was raised by two uncles.  One was a renowned Texas Ranger, and one was an attorney.   
“For William, the Ranger, the law would save us by PROTECTING us – by prosecuting crimes against us as zealously as crimes against whites.  No, Clayton the defense lawyer, said, the law was a lie black folks needed protection FROM – a set of rules that were written against us from the first ink was set to parchment.”

This debate pulled Darren to and fro from as early as he could remember.  As a white woman, I have no frame of reference for his experience.  However, I felt that the book helped me better understand Darren’s conundrum.   Sadly, we see it playing out in the news almost daily now.   Don’t let my focus on this aspect of the book lead you to think this is JUST a compelling story about race relations.  This element is the pivot on which the scenes turn, but this book is also a suspenseful fast-paced mystery.   Now that is a feat worthy of admiration.   In fact it was admired so much, it won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2018.

The next book in the series, ‘Heaven, My Home’ is tentatively scheduled to be released in September, 2019.  You can bet that I’ll try to get my hands on the next installment as soon as I can.

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Mulholland Books; and the author, Attica Locke; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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FBluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is part of her Hwy 59 series featuring Darren Mathews - a TX ranger who just happens to be black. The rangers code requires an oath which states you are a ranger first disregarding race, marital status, gender is second. Darren is faithful to the oath while skirting the limits when he feels an injustice is once again being perpetrated in an atmosphere and environment that has long been stacked against POC. 

Two murders have been committed in a tiny town called Lark. One a black man from Chicago about 35 who seemed to be passing through, the second a local white girl, age 20. While police shrugged off the former, the latter gets police attention. It seems they must be linked and Matthews goes to investigate while on suspension on a tip from a friend in the FBI. 

One thing that really struck me were the way so much of the book was about opposites- Geneva’s vs Wally’s Ice House, a white female murder victim vs a black male victim. Matthews uncles who raided him- both wanting him to follow in their own footsteps- one a defense attorney the other the first black Texas Ranger. 

The struggle between the Ranger sworn to uphold the law and the man who wants to see justice for his people are often at odds and the author does a masterful job without being lecturing or preaching. 

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of this author’s works which have long been on my TBR pile. 

Thank you #netgalley #atticalocke  # mullhollandbooks for the arc and the opportunity to share this great read with others.
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