A black Texas Ranger is a very rare thing to see in East Texas according to this story; the classic star badge brings about trouble for a man looking to enforce peace.
This novel by Attica Locke starts by entwining the main character in a hate crime situation – insinuating he may have played a part in the murder of a white criminal or, at the very least, is covering up for his family friend. The first several pages explain how the ranger first attracts trouble in the “off-duty” situation & leads to a white nationalist group following him through other counties.
Going to investigate the murder of a black man and white woman, the black Texas Ranger instinctively feels it was another hate crime fueled by racism in a town hours away from his own incidence. He tries to tie a link between the racist group ABT (similar to the KKK but also involving drug dealers) & suspects on his list to bring justice to the grieving town and his own hidden intentions.
Overall, it gives a vibe similar to A Time to Kill with racial tensions heating up during the murder investigations. The author does a fantastic job of trying to explain a balance between the ranger’s personal feelings/thoughts & how he must investigate professionally in a town dominated by controlling white men throwing disrespectful insults & the N-word.
Key instances demonstrate to the reader this tension heavy mystery is set in modern times with mentions of Obama, Trump, text messages, Google searches, etc. It is a humbling and depressing reminder each time that these racist murders, tensions, threats, and criminal alliances still exist in the US.
The author ties in characters’ histories for an emotional read of how a black family has tried to thrive in the tiny white town – despite their men being murdered in each generation. While the murderer is a bit predictable – the writing and tension the author creates is certainly worth the read.
This book was chosen for a book club I am joining this month & I’m interested to see what discussions take place…