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Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Black Water Rising (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Attica Locke

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4663922,239 (3.48)1 / 118
Title:Black Water Rising
Authors:Attica Locke
Info:Serpents Tail (2010), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (2009)



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A decent legal thriller with a heavy dose of political corruption and civil rights. It’s set in 1980-81 and struggling lawyer Jay and his wife Bernadine are in the wrong place at the wrong time and witness a crime. On the surface it appears the woman Elise has been attacked and they drive her to the police station. He combs the newspapers for more information, but no story appears on the police blotter about a soaking wet woman being nearly killed. Instead he finds an item about a white man being shot on the same night as the rescue and the fingerprints of a woman being found at the scene.

From this tiny tidbit, Jay puts himself into the thick of a corruption scandal involving a large oil company, unions, political big-shots and an old friend. A lot of it goes where you’d expect; Jay is bribed, warned and then his pregnant wife is used as leverage when neither of the first tactics work. A couple of bodies turn up and they’re just the ones you’d expect. The wife is a ninny about guns until a certain scene. At first, I wondered if Jay would remain friendless for the whole book, then an ally turns up and of course he’s not covered in moral rectitude. I just wish he had done the action hero bit instead of Jay constantly trying to be physical; it was just ludicrous and he never learned no matter how many times he banged the hell out of himself and ruined another suit. It kind of got to be funny.

Jay’s past is interspersed with the present storyline; how he went from civil rights activist to nearly criminal to lawyer. It’s a fascinating story that is entirely plausible. Real people are inserted into the narrative to boost the verisimilitude. Leaders fighting against racial prejudice and the new Jim Crow laws were often removed and railroaded with illegal tactics by the US government. It’s shameful and disheartening and this part of the story makes it apparent we haven’t come that far.

In terms of the corruption angle; I could buy it. I was a little older than the author was at the time the novel is set and I remember (vaguely) the oil crisis of the 1970s and what the government tried to do to thwart it should it happen again. The stockpiling and the oil reserve program. It was a system crying out to be gamed. ( )
2 vote Bookmarque | Sep 5, 2015 |
A disolusioned young lawyer, afraid that his activist past will destroy his tenuous hold on a middle-class existence, is sucked into investigating a murder connected to the oil industry when a white woman, fleeing something, lands on a boat he's hired for a romantic moment with his wife. Interesting look at African-American life in Houston in the 1980s with an appealing if somewhat anti-heroic reluctant protagonist.
  bfister | Feb 23, 2015 |
basic mystery with some suspense and historical interest (civil rights)
  aletheia21 | Nov 17, 2014 |
Ms. Locke has created a masterpiece, merging a mystery/crime novel with an era of social history at a level rarely obtained. Neither aspect comes across as subservient to the other. Highly recommended. I was so impressed that I have already begun Attica Locke's second novel, "The Cutting Season" ( )
  davevanl | Oct 17, 2014 |
This is one of the best mystery/ thrillers I have read in some time. I liked everything about te book- story plot, characters, writing style, even the ending. My hope is to see more written by this author. ( )
  KarenHerndon | May 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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If we are blinded by darkness,
we are also blinded by light.
--- Annie Dillard
For my grandfather
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The boat is smaller than he imagined.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061735868, Hardcover)

On a dark night, out on the Houston bayou to celebrate his wife's birthday, Jay Porter hears a scream. Saving a distressed woman from drowning, he opens a Pandora's Box. Not the lawyer he set out to be, Jay long ago made peace with his radical youth, tucked away his darkest sins and resolved to make a fresh start. His impulsive act out on the bayou is heroic, but it puts Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him is practice, his family and even his life. Before he can untangle the mystery that stretches to the highest reaches of corporate power, he must confront the demons of his past. A provocative thriller with an exhilarating climax, "Black Water Rising" marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:07 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When African-American lawyer Jay Porter jumps into the bayou to save a drowning white woman in Houston, Texas, in 1981, he finds his practice and life in danger when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving Houston's elite.

(summary from another edition)

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