- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 24 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Hachette Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 13, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B074ZMD3VY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Bluebird, Bluebird Audiobook – Unabridged
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There are elements of this novel that reminded me of John Grisham’s A TIME TO KILL, although Locke’s story is less about the murders (or the mystery) than it is about the characters. Darren was born and raised in Texas, and he resents the state’s image as the home of white supremacists and racist rednecks. He is proud of his position as a Texas Ranger, and prouder still of his efforts to protect disenfranchised black Texans and fight the Aryan Brotherhood. He has a wife who wishes he’d turn in his badge and go back to law school, and he’s torn between his love for her and his passionate commitment to justice. He was raised by two uncles, one (a police officer) believing that “the law would save us by protecting us,” and the other (a lawyer) believing that “the law is a lie black folks need protection from.” When Darren arrives in Lark, his assumption is that the two murders are both connected and racially motivated. And when he runs up against an uncooperative white sheriff and a rich white local who owns most of the town, the truth gets harder to unravel. It quickly becomes clear that “justice was messier than [he] realized when he’d first pinned a badge to his chest.”
Another fascinating character is Geneva Sweet, who owns the only café in town where black people can feel comfortable eating. Her story is a compelling one, reflecting what it’s like to live in a place where race is always front and center. We learn more about Geneva slowly, as Darren gets closer and closer to what really happened – not only to the two bodies that washed up behind Geneva’s café, but to her husband and son. She’s a strong character, a woman with enough backbone to stand up to the rich white guy who’s been trying to get his hands on her café for years. And she becomes the focal point of both the town and its story.
I liked reading BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD. Locke writes in such a way that the setting of her story becomes palpable, even to readers like me who have never spent time in rural Texas. I could feel what it must be like to be in this little town, eating barbecue and fried pies at Geneva Sweet’s café, drinking whiskey at the all-white icehouse down the road, and always watching my words for political implications. It’s a lyrical, down-home environment that’s as scary as hell.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, this probably isn’t the one. The murders, and the mystery, just aren’t front-and-center enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. But if you like slow-building character-based stories that are intimately engaging, BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD won’t disappoint. I will warn you that this is the first of a planned series, meaning the ending is designed to set up the next book. It isn’t a huge problem – the story of Lark and its murders is definitely wrapped up – but it does leave you hanging a bit. Even so, I do recommend this novel. It’s a really good read.
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Darren Mathews is a Texas Ranger, and he is a black man.Read more