By the third page we have a body found at the edge of the vast Belle Vie Estate in Louisiana, but at times throughout this book it's easy to forget that you're reading a crime novel. The murder is the way into a tale of past slavery, present-day race relations, and the machinations of American big business and capitalism. The writing is elegant and the story develops slowly, making this a book to be savoured rather than galloped through.
He was handcuffed when they brought him in, two armed deputies at his sides, and he kept his head down, his chin pressed against his sternum. He didn't look around the room much, didn't make eye contact with Caren or anyone else, just stood there, shaking his head every time his lawyer whispered something in his ear. He was unshaven, his hair in knots, and Caren had the awful thought that they'd kept him in lockup for the past few days for the sole purpose of aging him, curing him like a cut of meat, making him look more like the thug they were here to charge. It was a reminder of the ways an arrest can often work backward, making a criminal of any life it touches. It pained her to see him this way.