Murder mystery is the choice for Wilton Reads

Whether you use a CD player, e-reader or just like to turn real pages, The Cutting Season by Attica Locke is the book many people in Wilton will be talking about over the next few weeks.

That’s the book Wilton Library has chosen for this year’s Wilton Reads program, now in its ninth season. Wilton Reads is a community-wide outreach effort to spur an exchange of ideas and discussion about topics relevant to the lives of those who live here.

The Cutting Season was published in hardcover in September 2012, and the paperback version is being rolled out next month. The library will give away 100 free copies on a first-come, first-served basis — one per person — beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Those who miss out on a free copy will have several hardcover books, audio books and large-print versions to check out.

Wilton Reads events will include library-based discussions. Joanna Ecke will lead a general discussion on Monday, Sept. 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Susan Boyar will do the same on Monday, Sept. 23, from 10:30 to noon. That program will be followed by a visit from Ms. Locke on Friday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m., where she will be presented with the Grodin Fine Writers Award.

The Cutting Season is Ms. Locke’s second book following her debut with Black Water Rising. It is a murder mystery set on a southern plantation that weaves in matters of race, politics, business, history, class and personal relationships.

An excerpt from the book reads: “The decor was attractive and strong, but blander than she would have thought his wealth and position afforded him. Caren couldn’t see the point of having that much money if all of it led to was beige.”

Another: “Mothering, she learned the hard way, was about loss as well as love.”

“We are always looking for a book that catches people’s imaginations or is discussable,” said Janet Crystal, the library’s marketing communications manager. “This books seems to fall in that category very nicely. It is engaging as a crime story, and as it develops it goes into the past history of slaves at the plantation more than 100 years ago.”

Tolerance, societal changes and “generationally what has happened and how people have changed” are some of the key discussion points of the book, she said.

Ms. Ecke said she thinks The Cutting Season is a good choice for Wilton Reads.

Of the author she said, “She’s a young writer and seems to be able to do just about everything. She’s done screenwriting and it looks to me as if this book is very visual in that way.” The book includes a map “and like a lot of books with maps, it has several generations she’s talking about,” Ms. Ecke added. “It’s important to see where everything is.”

The book takes place in Louisiana and Ms. Ecke, who grew up in that state’s bayou country said, “she really evokes the raininess and mistiness of Louisiana. It’s an unusual state, not like Florida ... you have the feeling it rains so much you might see a dinosaur rumbling along. ... This is not like New Orleans, which is sophisticated, this is the country she’s talking about, where people are wading up to their shoe soles in mud.

“This is just a really good read,” Ms. Ecke continued. “I found myself reading it non-stop. It’s an old-fashioned novel to tell you the truth.”

In addition to many positive reviews, The Cutting Season was chosen by veteran novelist Dennis Lehane (Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone) as the first selection of his imprint for publisher Harper Collins.

In connecting the two authors, Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times: “Both authors specialize in apparently civilized settings where long-buried discord is always poised to erupt, usually with lethal consequences. Each is willing to use the murder mystery as a framework for much more ambitious, atmospheric fiction.”

As luck would have it, Ms. Locke is now on tour promoting the publication of The Cutting Season in paperback and the library was able to book a visit. “That’s what our Wilton readers love,” Ms. Crystal said, “ to see the author.”

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