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Pleasantville by Attica Locke
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Pleasantville

by Attica Locke

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It's a fine legal procedural, but the fact that it was on the Bailey's longlist made me expect it to be more than that. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I must be honest and say that I found this book very heavy going. Despite the fact that it had rave reviews it just never clicked with me. Why? not really sure, perhaps that the reader needed to know a great deal about the American electoral system, and the Texan system in particular; perhaps because so much of the plot linked back to an earlier book by the same author. I never really related to the characters who seemed quite formulaic. ( )
  herschelian | Nov 12, 2016 |
It's a fine legal procedural, but the fact that it was on the Bailey's longlist made me expect it to be more than that. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Attica Locke’s novel opens on 5 November 1996, when Americans were in the process of returning President Clinton to serve his second term at the White House. The Presidential contest is not, however, the only election holding the attention of the people of Pleasantville, which is a real area in Houston, Texas. The locals there are being canvassed by rival candidates for a mayoral election which has split the local community. There are a lot of burning issues around Pleasantville. Jay Porter, the novel’s principal protagonist, has fought a number of class actions for the community over pollution caused by a number of large businesses, and has established himself as a thorn in the side

Alicia Nowell is a young woman about to graduate from high school and has been helping the ‘get out the vote’ push for one of the candidates, delivering leaflets and fliers throughout the neighbourhood. With less than an hour to go before the polls close she decides to head for home, but as she waits on a street corner someone is watching her. She never makes it home, and her badly beaten corpse is found five days later, provoking a massive murder investigation. Shortly after her body is discovered the police arrest a prominent member of one of the electoral teams, and the case becomes a political football, drawing massive attention from the media. Reluctantly Porter bows to unwarranted personal pressure and agrees to represent the accused man.

This book is a fascinating blend of political intrigue, courtroom confrontation and whodunit, with a fair sprinkling of the history of the civil rights movement thrown in. Locke crosses genres with ease, and manages the story with great dexterity. Jay Porter is a good man, and an empathetic character, grappling with
self-doubt, money worries and the pressures of raising his children as a single parent, still wracked with grief over the death of his wife a year ago. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Apr 10, 2016 |
given the electoral mayhem going on in the US right now, it was an interesting time for me to read this book and it felt like a good complement to the US's current election cycle. shenanigans, i tell you. shenanigans!

as happened with Locke's first book in the series (Black Water Rising), i enjoyed this story but found it to have a few wobbles that took away from things for me while i read. Locke is great at character - i quite like when authors write convincingly the opposite gender to their own, and Locke does this well. and her supporting cast are interesting as well. again, the setting (Houston) and time (1996) are vividly portrayed. as a mystery, though, this did feel a bit clunky. while the level of manipulations going on were (sadly) believable, some of the incompetencies and conspiracies felt just a little bit too unreal. and also as in the first book, some of the plot threads just hung there.

Pleasantville was recently longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, so i was reading through that lens. and perhaps i have been tougher on the book because of that. overall, i did enjoy it - the book is a quick near page-turner, and a good bit of escapist reading which succeeds in pointing out the failings and vulnerabilities of American democracy. ( )
1 vote Booktrovert | Apr 3, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Any politician worth his salt knows the road
to elected office passes through Pleasantville.
   - James Campbell, Houston Chronicle
Dedication
per te, Saro
ci vediamo li
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They partied in Pleasantville that night, from Laurentide to Demaree Lane.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Locke reintroduces us to environmental lawyer Jay Porter (her Black Water Rising protagonist), who takes one last case on the behalf of the community of Pleasantville in this new thriller--only to become embroiled in its shadowy politics, a disturbing education in how far those in power are willing to go to win"--… (more)

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