⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3 out of 5.
I approached this book with enthusiasm, having read and enjoyed Black Water Rising and Bluebird, Bluebird. I didn’t get off to a very good start as there were constant references to Bluebird, Bluebird which I just couldn’t remember. When one reads upwards of 100 books a year, it’s hard to recollect the finer details of one from two years ago. However, I soldiered on, taking the events at face value, hoping everything would become clearer.
Darren Matthews is sent to Jefferson on a mission I never fully bought into. The son of a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is missing and his job is not to investigate the the disappearance but to glean any information he can about the Brotherhood. The main thread of this is to visit the boy’s father in jail. I got a bit uneasy at this point because it was a very obvious bit of plotting to get Matthews into Jefferson. He could just have gone directly to the jail. I also questioned why a black Texas ranger would be sent into a hotbed of white supremacists.
Matthews proceeded to wander through the rest of the book being told he wasn’t welcome, that the investigation was nothing to do with him (true) and being regularly insulted in the coarsest of terms. This didn’t stop him from solving the mystery when no one else could.
Locke’s descriptive writing reminds me very much of James Lee Burke (that’s an enormous compliment) and she has obviously done massive research for this book. I got the feeling she was writing something with the breadth of Gone With the Wind but was obliged to shoehorn it into a much shorter book. The results was pages and pages of historical fact, some of which was relevant to the story, some wasn’t. It was just too much information for me to take in and hold in my head, so I skipped them in the end and sought out the bits that dealt with the ongoing plot.
There were quite a few floating strands at the end of the book, but I won’t be buying the next one. I don’t like giving up on a character, but I knew no more about Darren Matthews at the end than I did at the beginning.