"The Cutting Season" by Attica Locke is a decent stand-alone novel. There's murder, history, intrigue, politics, complicated family relationships and much more. This is the synopsis from Goodreads:
"The American South in
the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich
family. So much history. And a dead body.
Just after dawn, Caren
walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in
Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing
unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence
bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after
dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls
her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a
distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has
police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no
one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she
didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes
shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its
past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is
not to be trusted."
I enjoyed the story- the history and the secrets hidden in the cane
fields and on the plantation; the racial tension felt authentic-- not
melodramatic or over-done but also not ignored; the creepy historic slave cabins and their possible
haunting. It is a well crafted book- everything woven together nicely.
Caren is not very likeable at the beginning, but she grew on me. I found the story slowly compelling, it
took time to get there, but once it did, I didn't want to put it down
until I was done. There were certain things that bothered me, such as
half the dialogue is not safely contained in quotation marks, but it
wasn't confusing. I thought the complications with Caren's ex were a bit
convoluted and contrived, but the end was satisfying and the resolution
I probably won't read it again, but it was enjoyable for a random pick-up from the library's new books shelf.