Motherless Children Kindle Edition
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- Publishers Weekly review of submission to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest
From the Author
- ASIN : B005BCOPGM
- Publisher : Hushpuckena Press (July 6, 2011)
- Publication date : July 6, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 710 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 413 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,241,157 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story opens in 1921, on Avalon plantation, owned and established by Big Byron Southworth, who carved it and the nearby town of Eudora out of the land. A black man has shot himself to death in the shed. Twenty-five years later, while Big Byron's eldest son Little Byron and wife Helen visit the home of their brother-in-law Tommy Lott, Little Byron's sister "Auntie" and niece Madeleine Lott are poisoned with arsenic. Police Chief Sam Swain, put-upon and constrained by politics, is determined to find the culprit and frustrated by the family's diffident cooperation.
Luce not only makes good on his strong start; he improves upon it. The pace never slows, the twists and turns are many, often unexpected, but never strain credibility. We observe the social customs and outdated race relations of the deepest South, where fears of impending change bubble up violently, from the perspective of privileged whites, working class blacks, and the less socially advantaged whites who resent both. Luce has intertwined, not one, but many mysteries. There are deaths past and present, family secrets, and mysterious motives.
The third-person narration of Chief Swain's investigation alternates with first-person narration by the individual suspects and victims involved in the case. I was impressed that Randall Luce was able to weave so many threads without seeming awkward. His work as a cultural anthropologist in the Mississippi Delta pays dividends in his fiction. We see a deeply rooted, elegant culture suffocating in its own values of heritage, immutable social strata, and corrosive race relations, afraid to gaze too deeply into the past or to move on to the future. All characters are handled with sensitivity, and the mystery is a page-turner.
This book will lead the reader to still waters. Fill the mind with suspense, mystery, and provocation. Why else do we read? What else can we hope for? It makes me angry that work of this quality "Washes like a twig in a stream" as Mr. Luce describes. I will be recommending this book for quite a while to come.
This is a murder mystery in the old style and southern to the bone, complete with white judgments, black timidity, and storefront gossip. The author quickly introduces a full cast of characters with family and historical loyalties that move slowly through a timely narrative. The humid atmosphere smothers the town in the Mississippi Delta, where everyone is related to everyone else and the rich and white rule the land, government, and law. But times are changing and former slave families are beginning to let go of the past and actively search for new futures.
Playing both sides of the house, stubborn sheriff Sam Swain sets out to find the person who murdered overbearing Auntie and her silly niece Maddie. Both victims are descendants of the towns founder, a cotton farmer who carved a rich existence from the delta's muddy bottom lands. Maddie's merchant father becomes Swains first suspect and, when a decaying foot floats up from the muddy river bottom, his suspicions appear to be correct.
Author Randall Luce has provided vivid landscapes of both land and mind in this gripping tale. This is a fantastic read, not just for its entertainment value, but for the lessons learned when tensions between cultures explode in ways that destroy both present and future.
It is a story about slaves being free but black people really aren't free.
I found the writing to be good but the tale to be so very sad. I would recommend this book though.