Posts Tagged ‘Attica Locke’

‘Heaven, My Home’ by Attica Locke – A Texas Ranger

 

‘Heaven, My Home’ by Attica Locke (2019) – 292 pages

My usual fare is the more recognizably literary fiction, but once in a while I like to dig into a well-written mystery novel and in this case it is ‘Heaven, My Home’.

Darren Matthews is a Texas Ranger from Houston assigned to a case on the northeastern border of Texas with Louisiana, an area of swamps and cypress trees and virulent white racists and small southern towns. A nine year old boy, Levi King, is missing. His father, a white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood of Texas leader, is sitting in jail. The boy’s grandmother is one of the elite in the small town of Jefferson and calls in the Texas Rangers to find the boy. The last person to see the boy and the primary suspect in the boy’s disappearance is Leroy Page, a black man who lives in the unincorporated backwater town of Hopetown. This is a racially charged crime story.

Did I mention that Darren Matthews, the Texas Ranger working on the case, is a black man? Darren asks his lieutenant, “Come on, you sending me into an Aryan Brotherhood mess, least you can do is tell me why?” In this part of Texas, the Aryan Brotherhood is the prevailing white racist criminal gang, and the Texas Rangers are working on a massive indictment of key members of the Aryan Brotherhood on charges of drug running and illegal gun sales and various other felony conspiracies. Our Texas Ranger must constantly deal “with befuddled anger at what a handful of scared white people could do to a nation”.

There are many strands to this Texas Ranger’s story including his personal life. His best friend may be having an affair with his estranged wife. He has had a drinking problem, his mother is blackmailing him, and he is in constant danger of “falling off the cliff of his own morality”. Somehow the author balances all of these complicated story lines into a meaningful whole. Since this novel is part of a series, the lead character is a difficult well-rounded character who can hold up several novels.

‘Heaven, My Home’ is a compelling atmospheric crime story that deals with the hate groups and attitudes of the current racially charged situation. It is the second novel in Attica Locke’s hard-boiled Highway 59 series for which her first, ‘Bluebird, Bluebird’, won the Edgar Award for best mystery novel of 2017. Attica Locke is also a writer for the television series ‘Empire’ and ‘When They See Us’.

 

Grade:    A-

 

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