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Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Black Water Rising (2009)

by Attica Locke

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6084923,019 (3.5)1 / 163



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Nice crime fiction mystery story that includes narratives about the African-American experience vis-a-sis the criminal justice system in the USA. I enjoyed the story line and learned about the perspective of victims and lawyers. I'd recommend this book; and I'll try an locate other books by this author. ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Sep 22, 2018 |
This novel, set in 1981, introduces Jay Porter, an African-American defence attorney based in Houston, who will reappear in as protagonist of Pleasantville, set some quarter of a century later in Dallas. As the book opens, Porter and his heavily pregnant wife Bernie are about to board a rather dilapidated boat to sail down the bayou while having a romantic dinner to celebrate her birthday. Money is tight, and Porter has arranged the trip on the cheap through a recent client, although he hadn’t been prepared for the boat to be quite so run down.

Still, the trip goes well and Bernie seems to be enjoying herself until, as they are nearly back at the dock, they hear a woman scream, and then two shots ring out in the night, followed by the sound of running and then someone plunging into the water. Jay and the boat owner are reluctant to become involved, but Bernie persuades them to turn around to investigate. Having done so they find a white woman in an elaborate ball gown swimming in the bayou. They pick her up, and, after they have disembarked, jay drives her to the nearest police station where he lets her out, but does not offer to accompany her inside. Indeed, he drives away before even checking that she has gone in herself.

We learn that Jay is nervous of any contact with the police because he had previously been a prominent figure, at least locally, in the Civil Rights movement, during the 1960s, and had encountered the rougher side of law enforcement all too closely. Through some extended flashbacks we learn that he had faced trial

The novel is set in 1981, although it offers frequent flashbacks to periods in Porter’s past during which he had been on the periphery of the Black panthers, and had arranged for Stokely Carmichael to speak to groups at his university. During that time, he had become friendly with a white woman who was herself prominent in several politically active groups. She is now the Democrat mayor of Houston, now a thriving city riding high on oil wealth, and is struggling to maintain peace and order as the city’s docks are faced with the threat of concerted trade union agitation, although there is fierce rivalry and bitterness between the separate unions representing low paid (and predominantly black) longshoremen and the mainly white stevedores and middle management. Against this backdrop, Porter finds himself representing an African-American woman ‘with a looser understanding of social responsibilities’ (a rather gentle euphemism for prostitute) who is seeking damages from a leading white businessman. As that case proceeds by fits and starts, Jay finds himself being followed by a threatening-looking man perpetually wearing dark glasses.

Like Pleasantville, 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 supporting his family. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 14, 2018 |
Do you ever just pick up and book and realize that while there is nothing really wrong with it, you just don't like it? This is how I felt reading this one. It has all the elements that I normally enjoy in a crime novel but I found my mind wandering while I read it and the pacing was a little slow. I've heard really good things about this author's most recent novel and I've really wanted to try her stuff. This was her first novel and I still intend to try that one and give her another chance. 2.5🌟 ( )
  ChelleBearss | Jul 16, 2018 |
A mystery involving race, power, politics, oil, money and death in early 1980s Houston that grabbed me on several different levels.

I picked up this book to meet challenge 21 in Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge: a mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author. ( )
  dougcornelius | May 16, 2018 |
Can not put this down! ( )
  celerydog | Mar 18, 2018 |
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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.

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