“Bluebird Bluebird” by Attica Locke is a well-constructed racial murder mystery set in small town Texas that nicely twists and turns with an ending that opens up to a potential sequel.
The story starts with Darren, a rare black Texas Ranger, defending himself on the stand for his response to an older black man shooting a known white supremacist in self-defense. While on probation, he learns that a body of a black man and a young white woman washed ashore two days apart in nearby Lark. He weasels himself into the investigation and learns the male victim had traveled from Chicago to give an ex-musician an old guitar as part of his uncle’s last wishes. Darren feels a close connection to the victim who had graduated from the law school he had once attended but didn’t finish, as his wife brings up a lot. It turns out the ex-musician, Joe Sweet, had been murdered years before in the diner owned by his 70-something wife, Geneva. It’s also the diner the female victim had been a waitress. As Darren puts together the pieces of the two victims and how their lives intertwined one night at the diner with its own controversial history, he tries to deal with what’s left of his career, his marriage, and his desire to solve the crime.
Though not a fan of racial murder mystery, I enjoyed this story because the pacing was even with flawed characters that are still likable. Also an FX drama is in the works, so it’ll be interesting to see how the characters leap off the page onto the screen.