Writing in the tradition of Dennis Lehane and Greg Iles, Attica Locke, a powerful new voice in American fiction, delivers a brilliant debut thriller that readers will not soon forget.
Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl and he runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy strip mall. But he's long since made peace with not living the American Dream and carefully tucked away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.
Houston, Texas, 1981. It is here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night in a boat out on the bayou when he impulsively saves a woman from drowning--and opens a Pandora's box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston's corporate power brokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.
With pacing that captures the reader from the first scene through an exhilarating climax, Black Water Rising marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent.
Set in 1981, Locke's compelling if unwieldy debut charts the moral struggles of Jay Porter, a black lawyer in Houston, Tex. Porter, who knows far more about a murder near one of the city's bayous than do the police, doesn't want to come forward largely because of his own criminal past as well as a secret relationship with Houston's female mayor. Another reason is that Porter, having fought his way out of the ghetto, is now striving for a more comfortable lifestyle with his wife and new baby. Why get tangled up in a messy murder, even if it could mean preventing the conviction of an innocent person? Locke, a screenwriter with both film and TV credits (including a forthcoming HBO miniseries about the civil rights movement), steers a gritty drama to a satisfying end, though a sluggish subplot involving labor union issues undermines the novel's grander ambitions. A leaner, meaner version was an opportunity missed, yet Locke remains an author to watch. (June)
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June 08, 2009
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