|Not a bluebird.|
But robins are a hopeful sign of emergence from the dark of winter.
It's 2016 in Bluebird, Bluebird, a tense and complex novel by Attica Locke. There have been two murders in the east Texas town of Lark, and trouble is brewing. At Geneva Sweet's Sweets, the cafe's regular diners are tense and grim.
"What's going on?" [asked Wendy, a sometime business associate of the cafe's owner, Geneva].
Geneva sighed. "They pulled a body out the bayou this morning."
Wendy looked dumbfounded. "Another one?"
"A white one."
Huxley nodded, pushing his coffee away. "Y'all remember when that white girl got killed down to Corrigan, they hauled in nearly every black man within thirty miles. In and out of every church and juke joint, every black-owned business, hunting for the killer or anybody who fit the bill they had in mind."
Geneva felt something dislodge in her breast, felt the fear she'd been trying to staunch give way, rising till it liked to choke her from the inside out.
"And aint' nobody done a damn thing about that black man got killed up the road just last week," Huxley said.
"They ain't thinking about that man," Tim said, tossing a grease-stained napkin on his plate. "Not when a white girl come up dead."
"Mark my words," Huxley said, looking gravely at each and every black face in the cafe. "Somebody is going down for this."
The murders in Lark are being investigated by officers from the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, who are white. But the protagonist in Bluebird Bluebird is Darren Matthews, who is a native of East Texas, a Texas Ranger, and a black man.
Ranger Matthews goes to Lark to informally look around. He is well aware of the sensitive role he is undertaking: Rangers are elite law enforcement, but neither local officials nor his own team has asked Matthews to investigate these murders. Further complicating matters, the Aryan Brotherhood has a presence in the community, and that turns up racial tensions. Digging into the middle of these tensions, Matthews uncovers a tangle of relationships, anger and resentments, and murders - old and new. And as his investigation continues, solving the crimes becomes key to Matthews own survival.
Bluebird Bluebird is an engaging novel with a plot that is full of twists and dominated by the issues of race and justice. It is a strongly recommended read.