This novel is social commentary disguised as a murder mystery. It prompts readers to contemplate themes of race, class, economics and the importance of historical events in a modern society. The setting is an antebellum plantation that has been preserved as a historical event center where tourists and wedding parties can be entertained with reenactments of historical plantation events by actors dressed in period costumes.
The social and economic status of people working at the facility and surrounding economy seem to have advanced up a level from that of their ancestors with the new bottom strata now being filled by undocumented workers from Latin America. The manager of the facility, a descendant of slaves, supervises a staff that includes at least one who is undocumented. She in turn is hired by and accountable to the absentee owners of the facility who are descendants of the white 19th century operators of the plantation. The plot centers around the mystery surrounding the discovery of a murdered undocumented worker from a neighboring sugarcane farm. In the process of solving this mystery the readers are introduced to the human toll of inequality in America.
The site manager is very much aware of the unpleasant irony of being both a descendant of slaves and also in a managerial position that is part of the power structure that is unfair to the virtual slaves of this generation (i.e. undocumented workers).
Is history a guide to a better tomorrow or a yoke around our necks that prevents us from moving forward? This books suggests that sometimes the weight of that yoke can prevent society from advancing.
This is a well written book even if judged solely on the basis of the murder mystery genre. There are scary blood curdling scenes all through this book to keep readers well entertained--even those who don't notice the social commentary that I've featured in this review. I don't normally give five start to books in this genre, but I've made an exception in this case.