Country Noir: Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

“That was the thing about second changes—it was impossible to know what was real or what wasn’t; every act of forgiveness was a leap of faith.”

Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is finally starting to get his life together after the events of Bluebird, Bluebird.  He is back on the job.  If it at a desk, the time home is allowing him to repair his relationship with his wife, and he is doing important work on a federal-state task force building a case against the Aryan Brotherhood.  His drinking is under control.  The only hitch is his no-account mother blackmailing him, but everything really goes to shit when a boy goes missing on the Texas-Louisiana border.

Heaven, My Home is the second book in Locke’s Highway 59 Mystery series.

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Country Noir: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

“The nobility is in the fight, son, in all things.”

Darren Matthews is a hard-drinking, black Texas Ranger.  His job and his marriage are hanging by a thread after a friend asked him for help and the other guy wound up dead.  He is still on suspension when he takes it on himself to, at an FBI buddy’s urging, head out of town to investigate the deaths of a local white woman and a black man passing through rural east Texas.

Bluebird, Bluebird is set in east Texas in the Piney Woods along Highway 59.  The copy describes it as “rural noir” and it was the winner of the 2018 Edgar Award for Best (mystery) Novel.  It works well enough as a mystery for me (but then I have never been a mystery fan).  It is fairly classed as country noir (my preferred term for the subgenre), although it fits somewhat uneasily.  But the two complement each other and make for a stronger book viewed with both aspects in mind.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Fresh off my review of Savage Season, I am back for another country noir set in East Texas.  Bluebird, Bluebird is thick with Texas Rangers and the blues and blood and bubbling racial tensions.  I am reading this now and I have thoughts!  But I am going to wait for the paperback to hit before I publish my review.  You can expect it to go live on August 22.

Bluebird, Bluebird won the 2018 Edgar Award for Best (mystery) Novel.

Can’t-Wait Wednesdays is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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Country Noir: Savage Season by Joe Lansdale

Take two crazy S.O.B.s, add one simple plan, and, well, things go about as well as expected from there.  Savage Season is Lansdale’s first novel featuring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine.  He would go on to write nine more novels, three novellas,  and three short story collections and get his work adapted for TV as Hap and Leonard (recently cancelled after three seasons).

Hap is a white ex-hippie who did time for draft dodging.  Leonard is a black gay Vietnam vet.  (Savage Season was published in 1990.)  They share a job working as field hands, a love of martial arts, middle age, and one hell of a friendship.  Things go to shit when that ex walks back into Hap’s life and offers him a chance at easy money.

Lansdale might disagree,[1] but Savage Season features several quintessential country noir elements.  There is a strong sense of place, in this case the Piney Woods of East Texas (Lansdale’s an East Texas native).  There are colorful characters.  It is decidedly low-rent, with criminals of the two-bit variety, if not just the one bit.  A simple plan explodes into way too much violence.  And the protagonists never quite come out ahead.

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