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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke - Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, is working on relationships. He has returned to working in the Houston office which pleases his wife. He is helping his mother which pleases her and keeps her from revealing what Mathews’ knew about a handgun used to kill a white supremacist. He is also deeply bored and increasingly anxious. Mathews is one of the few black Rangers.

His Mama, Cassie Bell, makes clear she is protecting her dear son as long as he keeps providing financial assistance. The maternal uncertainty is draining.

In the first book of the series, Bluebird, Bluebird, Mathews faced the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. In a stunning twist he is now asked to investigate a missing 9 year old boy, Levi King.  Levi’s “father Bill ‘Big Kill’ King - is an ABT captain doing a twenty-year bid at the Telford Unit up near Texarkana on a slew of drug-related charges. Sales, production, armed robbery, the works.” Levi is well under way to a racist adulthood.

With Big Kill locked away for decades Mom, Marnie, has taken up with a low level loser, Gil Thomason. Big Kill does not want his son near Thomason.

Having grown up in a household of romantic turmoil Mathews can appreciate Levi’s struggles with  tangled parental problems.

The Rangers and the FBI have been building a major case against the Brotherhood and want to get the evidence needed to indict before President Trump is inaugurated. They are uneasy the federal government will not be pursuing violent white supremacists.

At the same time federal law enforcement would be content, even glad, to see a black man convicted of killing a white child to show the new administration they are race neutral.

Sending a black man to lead the investigation of the missing child of the Brotherhood sounds like a bad, even crazy idea even if there are some black people who need to be interviewed. 

Big Marnie and Levi live deep in the woods at Hopetown, a community not on the map, on the edge of the massive Caddo Lake. They are proud public racists subleasing land owned by blacks. Hopetown is a fading community founded by free blacks after the Civil War. 

Bill Kill’s mother, Rosemary King, lives in splendour in the largest house in Jefferson and owns the Cardinal Hotel, the pre-eminent hotel in Eastern Texas for over 100 years. She has never had a black guest in her home until Mathews visits with the local Sheriff.

As with Geneva Sweet in Bluebird, Bluebird Locke has created another matriarch who fills pages with her presence. Unfortunately, Rosemary’s role in the book is mainly in the shadows.

Mathews marriage to Lisa remains fragile. When he needs to talk about his feelings he reaches out to Randie Winston, the widow of a victim in Bluebird, Bluebird. He wants his marriage to succeed but does he want it enough? 

His drinking is barely under control.

The relationships between white and black and Indian (there are also Caddo Indians resident at Hopetown) Texans intersect historically and currently. Resentments and racism are a constant presence. Relationships confound. And then financial issues intercede. Mathews is having doubts about following the rule of law in contemporary America. Maybe personally administered justice is better. 

The question of whether a devout racist can change is a challenge for Mathews.

Heaven, My Home draws readers into the racial complexities of rural East Texas. Finding what happened to Levi will answer many questions but no authorities other than Mathews are truly searching.

A great series is under way with Daren Mathews. The land, history and people of East Texas seep into every page.
****
Locke, Attica - (2016) - Pleasantville; (2017) - Black Water Rising and Wishing I had Read the Books in Order; (2018) - Bluebird, Bluebird and The First Black Texas Ranger in Real Life and Fiction

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as you did, Bill. It sounds as though the story shares history without overdoing that aspect of it, and also focuses on the relationships involved (again, without losing sight of the larger plot). That takes skill, and I give Locke credit for that. She has a skill at weaving local culture together with the story at hand, and with the people involved, and this novel sounds like no exception.

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    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Locke is a skilled storyteller. Her knowledge of East Texas is impressive.

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  2. I read and enjoyed this one recently. I'm interested in seeing whether Mathews can resolve a few troubling issue in future books.

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    1. Col: Thanks for the comment. I agree there is much for Locke to work upon in the next book.

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  3. Bill, it seems to me it'd be necessary to read the first book in the Darren Mathews series before reading this one. I have not read Attica Locke before.

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    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. I believe you will be disappointed if you do not read Bluebird, Bluebird before reading Heaven, My Home.

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  4. Aargh - you are reminding me that I am behind with Attica Locke, I must catch up.

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    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Your lament is one which I can readily identify. I hope you get the chance to read more of Locke's work.

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  5. I loved this book. So glad you read it and enjoyed it.

    A friend in Houston, who knew Attica Locke's father, is another fan. We spoke while reading the book and afterwards. She had gone to an event in Houston with the writer. She also plans to go to Caddo Lake to see it.

    I spent time googling photos of the lake and surrounding area.

    I believe that the author will write two more books in this series, so we'll have two more opportunities to enjoy her writing and Darren Mathews' exploits.

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    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the interesting stories about Attica and her family. Caddo Lake sounds like a fascinating lake. I had never heard of it before reading the book. I knew there was going to be another book in the series. I am glad there will be a fourth.

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