Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1)Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger involved in an investigation of multiple homicides in an East Texas town overrun with Aryan Brotherhood types. I thought this was going to be a hackneyed storyline filled with clear baddies – white racists – and clear good guys – Darren and the poor black folks of Lark. The plot and characterizations turned out to be more nuanced than that and I found myself drawn into the story by halfway through.

At times the author could write beautifully, but there were a number of grating faux pas (plural?) that an editor should have corrected. In several scenes there were three, four, or even five men involved or talked about and the text was full of he, him, his when it was unclear which man they referred to. This was especially bad when Darren’s familial relationships were first discussed and then at the end when everything was explained about the homicides. You really have to work to understand how everyone is related to each other and to past events.

The ending was disappointing to me but I’ll avoid spoilers by leaving it at that. The final chapter was an obvious, and very clumsy, setup for a sequel. Another major shortcoming I can’t let pass is the horrible description of police procedure. Apparently neither the Texas Rangers nor county sheriffs in Texas have ever heard of Miranda warnings. If this were real life, every crime solved would have been unprosecutable. Darren would have been fired or demoted.

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