Black Water Rising

Black Water Rising

by Attica Locke


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Attica Locke—a writer and producer of FOX’s Empire—delivers an engrossing, complex, and cinematic thriller about crime and racial justice

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist (Mystery/Thriller)
Edgar Award Nominee (Best First Novel)
The Orange Prize for Fiction (Shortlist)

“A near-perfect balance of trenchant social commentary, rich characterizations, and action-oriented plot.... Attica Locke [is] a writer wise beyond her years.”
— Los Angeles Times

“Atmospheric… deeply nuanced... akin to George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane....  Subtle and compelling.”
— New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061735851
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/20/2010
Series: Jay Porter Series , #1
Pages: 427
Sales rank: 121,200
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Attica Locke is the author of Black Water Rising, which was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the UK’s Orange Prize, and also the national bestseller The Cutting Season, which won an Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. She is a producer and writer on the Fox drama Empire. She is on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, where she lives.

Read an Excerpt

Black Water Rising
A Novel

Chapter One

Texas, 1981

The boat is smaller than he imagined. And dingier.

Even at night Jay can tell it needs a paint job.

This is not at all what they discussed. The guy on the phone said "moonlight cruise." City lights and all that. Jay had pictured something quaint, something with a little romance, like the riverboats on the Pontchartrain in New Orleans, only smaller. But this thing looks like a doctored-up fishing boat, at best. It is flat and wide and uglyâ€"a barge, badly overdressed, like a big girl invited to her first and probably last school dance. There are Christmas lights draped over every corner of the thing and strung in a line framing the cabin door. They're blinking erratically, somewhat desperately, winking at Jay, promising a good time, wanting him to come on in. Jay stays right where he is, staring at the boat's cabin: four leaning walls covered with a cheap carport material. The whole thing looks like it was slapped together as an afterthought, a sloppy attempt at decorum, like a hat resting precariously on a drunk's head.

Jay turns and looks at his wife, who hasn't exactly gotten out of the car yet. The door is open and her feet are on the ground, but Bernie is still sitting in the passenger seat, peeking at her husband through the crack between the door and the Skylark's rusting frame. She peers at her shoes, a pair of navy blue Dr. Scholl's, a small luxury she allowed herself somewhere near the end of her sixth month. She looks up from her sandals to the boat teeter-tottering on the water. She is making quick assessments, he knows, weighing her physical conditionagainst the boat's. She glances at her husband again, waiting for an explanation.

Jay looks out across the bayou before him. It is little more than a narrow, muddy strip of water flowing some thirty feet below street level; it snakes through the underbelly of the city, starting to the west and going through downtown, all the way out to the Ship Channel and the Port of Houston, where it eventually spills out into the Gulf of Mexico. There's been talk for years about the "Bayou City" needing a river walk of its own, like the one in San Antonio, but bigger, of course, and therefore better. Countless developers have pitched all kinds of plans for restaurants and shops to line Buffalo Bayou. The city's planning and development department even went so far as to pave a walkway along the part of the bayou that runs through Memorial Park. The paved walkway is as far as the river-walk plan ever went, and the walkway ends abruptly here at Allen's Landing, at the northwest corner of downtown, where Jay is standing now. At night, the area is nearly deserted. There's civilization to the south. Concerts at the Johnson and Lindy Cole Arts Center, restaurants and bars open near Jones Hall and the Alley Theatre. But the view from Allen's Landing is grim. There are thick, unkempt weeds choked up on the banks of the water, crawling up the cement pilings that hold Main Street overhead, and save for a dim yellow bulb at the foot of a small wooden pier, Allen's Landing is complete blackness.

Jay stands beneath his city, staring at the raggedy boat, feeling a knot tighten in his throat, a familiar cinch at the neck, a feeling of always coming up short where his wife is concerned. He feels a sharp stab of anger. The guy on the phone lied to him. The guy on the phone is a liar. It feels good to outsource it, to put it on somebody else. When the truth is, there are thirty-five open case files on his desk, at least ten or twelve with court time pending; there wasn't time to plan anything else for Bernie's birthday, and more important, there hasn't been any money, not for months. He's waiting on a couple of slip-and-falls to pay big, but until then there's nothing coming in. When one of his clients, a guy who owes him money for some small-time probate work, said he had a brother or an uncle or somebody who runs boat tours up and down the bayou, Jay jumped at the chance. He got the whole thing comped. Just like the dinette set he and Bernie eat off of every night. Just like his wife's car, which has been on cement blocks in Petey's Garage since April. Jay shakes his head in disgust. Here he is, a workingman with a degree, two, in fact, and, still he's taking handouts, living secondhand. He feels the anger again, and beneath it, its ugly cousin, shame.

He tucks the feelings away.

Anger, he knows, is a young man's game, something he long ago outgrew.

There's a man standing on the boat, near the head. He's thin and nearing seventy and wearing an ill-fitting pair of Wranglers. There are tight gray curls poking out of his nylon baseball cap, the words BROTHERHOOD OF LONGSHOREMEN, LOCAL 116, smudged with dirt and grease. He's sucking on the end of a brown cigarette. The old man nods in Jay's direction, tipping the bill of his cap.

Jay reaches for his wife's hand.

"I am not getting on that thing." She tries to fold her arms across her chest to make the point, but her growing belly is not where it used to be or even where it was last week. Her arms barely reach across the front of her body.

"Come on," he says. "You got the man waiting now."

"I ain't thinking about that man."

Jay tugs on her hand, feels her give just the tiniest bit. "Come on."

Bernie makes a whistling sound through her teeth, barely audible, which Jay hears and recognizes at once. It's meant to signal her thinning patience. Still, she takes his hand, scooting to the edge of her seat, letting Jay help her out of the car. Once she's up and on her feet, he reaches into the backseat, pulling out a shoe box full of cassette tapes and eight tracks and tucking it under his arm. Bernie is watching everything, studying his every move. Jay takes her arm, leading her to the edge of the small pier. It sags and creaks beneath their weight, Bernie carrying an extra thirty pounds on her tiny frame these days. The old man in the baseball cap puts one cowboy boot on a rotted plank of wood that bridges the barge to the pier and flicks his cigarette over the side of the boat. Jay watches it fall into the water, which is black, like oil. It's impossible to tell how deep the bayou is, how far to the bottom. Jay squeezes his wife's hand, reluctant to turn her over to the old man, who is reaching a hand over the side of the boat, waiting for Bernie to take her first step. "You Jimmy?" Jay asks him.

"Naw, Jimmy ain't coming."

"Who are you?"

"Jimmy's cousin."

Jay nods, as if he were expecting this all along, as if being Jimmy's cousin is an acceptable credential for a boat's captain, all the identification a person would ever need. He doesn't want -Bernie to see his concern. He doesn't want her to march back to the car. The old man takes Bernie's hand and gently guides her onto the boat's deck, leading her and Jay to the cabin door. He keeps close by Bernie's side, making sure she doesn't trip or miss a step, and Jay feels a sudden, unexpected softness for Jimmy's cousin. He nods at the old man's cap, making small talk. "You union?" he asks. The old man shoots a quick glance in Jay's direction, taking in his clean shave, the pressed clothes and dress shoes, and the smooth hands, nary a scratch on them. "What you know about it?"

There's a lot Jay knows, more than his clothes explain. But the question, here and now, is not worth his time. He concentrates on the floor in front of him, sidestepping a dirty puddle of water pooling under an AC unit stuck in the cabin's window, thinking how easy it would be for someone to slip and fall. He follows a step or two behind his wife, watching as she pauses at the entrance to the cabin. It's black on the other side, and she waits for Jay to go in first.

He takes the lead, stepping over the threshold.

Black Water Rising
A Novel
. Copyright © by Attica Locke. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

George Pelecanos

Black Water Rising is a stylish, involving literary thriller with a strong emphasis on human politics and character. An auspicious debut from Attica Locke.”

Sarah Weinman

“This debut thriller charges out of the gate, boldly establishing Locke as a name to look out for in years to come.”

James Ellroy

“What a ride! Black Water Rising is a superlative debut; a wonderful treatise on the Texas 1980s; the best bad town novel in some time. Attica Locke is a stand-out in every imperative-young-writer way.”

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Black Water Rising 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1981 Houston, black attorney Jay Porter has a lot of information on a recent homicide, but has several reasons not to share his knowledge with the cops. Besides not trusting the police, an offshoot of growing up in the city's slums, Porter knows if he speaks up he goes under the spotlight, and he has a lot to hide. Back when he was nineteen in 1970 he was on trial for inciting a riot and for conspiracy to commit murder of a federal agent; he knows he was fortunate that there was a juror who lived near his future father-in-law's church. He didn't even know Bernie who is now his wife or her dad Reverend Boykins at that time, but they and his flock were there for him. He wants his felonious history to remain concealed and a tryst with Mayor Cynthia Maddox to stay secret as he is beginning to make it in the middle class and wants the best for his wife and their new child. On the other hand, Porter also realizes by his silence, an innocent man is being condemned. Although his conscience bothers him, he weighs being the Good Samaritan against the impact on his family and his career.------------- This is a terrific historical legal thriller that brings to life Houston in 1981 as the civil rights movement remains strong but not quite as effective as it had been. Jay is a fabulous lead character as he decides to let the innocent dupe take the fall rather than challenge the city's powerful, but each time he shaves his conscience bothers him. Although too many subplots that help anchor time and place take away from the main theme, sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong character driven tale as Jay has nothing to lose materially with silence, but everything to lose with speaking out.--------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong characters. Complex relationships. Compelling story. Stellar prose. My favorite new author. I have no idea where some of these reader-reviewers are coming from, but here's where I am coming from: Some of my favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane, to name a few. Locke is now on my list as well. If you dig their writing, you will dig hers. Black Water Rising is a terrific read. The voices ring true, the plot is solid, the story is compelling, and the ending satisfies. Mystery, action, intrigue, humanity-it's all there. Most importantly, the writing is fantastic. It's all about the words baby, and this woman can write. I can't wait to read The Cutting Season. I, for one, look forward to many more Attica Locke novels in the years to come.   
NanaKS More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I could not put it down...staying up half the night to finish it. The author's knowledge of that period of time was amazingly accurate and her character development was great. Set in 1981 Houston, Jay Porter is a struggling attorney who has too many "ambulance" cases that won't amount to a hill of beans in payment to help his law office. He has become what he most feared...a person who "goes along to get along". Never rising above his emotional and financial poverty to find his true character. That is until he decides to take his wife, "B", on a boat ride for dinner to celebrate her birthday. The boat was pretty awful in it's "character" also but the night was to be the most important night in Jay Porter's life, being a witness to a homicide. One that would lead him on the road to self-discovery and finding his true inner character was not the person he thought himself to be but one that could raise his head and be proud of the man he became. You have to read this to find out more. It truly is a wonderful first book for Attica Locke. I can't wait to read her second novel "The Cutting Season".
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
The thing about this book is that the suspense part is the weakest part of the book. It's not a very engaging story. However, the realistic picture it paints of being a black man in the south 15 years after the freedom marches is its strength. Jay is an attorney who is struggling to move up the social ladder. He doesn't have much money to spend but he's determined to take his heavily pregnant wife for a nice anniversary dinner. So he calls in favors from his past clients. He gets a shabby boat, navigated by a shady man. While they're out on the river, they witness the aftermath of murder. They help a white woman in distress and that's where the trouble begins. Jay, having been arrested in college for being an activist in the late 60's, and having been betrayed by a white woman during that time, he is wary of rendering assistance. Still, his wife convinces him that they must help. He stops short of taking the woman inside a hospital or police station because doesn't trust he won't be seen as a prime suspect walking in with a distraught white woman. And there starts the series of bad decisions that Jay makes because of his past. Overall, this is a great atmosphere book but the story itself, lacking. 
Audi4 More than 1 year ago
The book was a very slow read for me. Didn't like the ending, it just left you there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found it slow going.
PerdidoMermaid More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't exactly what I expected, but I was highly pleased with it. What a wonderful story, written from the perspective of a black man who had fought for civil rights. Years later, his past comes back to haunt him and so many decisions have to be made, under tremendous and dangerous pressures, as to how to uphold his belief system, do the "right" thing, but still protect his and his family's life. A wonderful story. I will read Attica Locke again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is set in the south so there is a laid backness to the characters. It is an enjoyable mystery.
xoxo99c More than 1 year ago
The story is very slow. the scenes are not exciting. adding history to fiction does not have to be soo boring... Dont bother to read this book unless you are looking for some good sleep. If you want a little history with your fiction try Beverly Jenkins
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
The book reminded me of A Time to Kill by John Grisham. I could visually see Denzel Washington as Jay Porter. The story followed the same pattern as all the rest of the lawyer mysteries, with the family of the lawyer threatened by the "bad" man. The language and setting flowed as well as the muddy river waters. So many points or stories were left unresolved. I actually finished the book as the momentum picked up speed as the book progressed.
Writer9706 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get off into the story. I kept trying to stay with the story, but ended up putting the book down. I couldn't even get to halfway the book. Real snoozer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just not my cup of tea.
bohemiangirl35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Attica Locke's debut novel tells the story of Jay Porter, a down-on-his-luck attorney. The novel begins with Jay treating his wife Bernie to a dinner cruise, a deal through a cousin of a client, which turns out to be a ride on a run-down fishing boat. He is disappointed and angry at his station in life but grateful that Bernie eventually decides to make the best of the "cruise" with him. On the way back, they hear a woman screaming for help, gunshots and someone rolling down a hill and splashing into the water. Both the boat captain and Bernie look to Jay to do something, so he jumps into the river and pulls a woman from the water.Since a run-in with police during his college years, Jay has avoided law enforcement as much as possible. He is so intimidated that he won't even go into the police station. He drops the woman off at the station entrance.Later, his father-in-law asks him to provide legal assistance to black union workers who are being paid less than white workers. Jay doesn't want to get involved, but can't say no to family. Locke does an excellent job with setting the scene, providing details to put the reader in the 1970s and 80s. After a sluggish beginning, the story picks up about halfway through and gets really interesting. The characters needed to be developed a little more, in my opinion. Jay's character was pretty weak in the beginning, but you could tell he would have to get a backbone in order for the story to continue. If his character had been more consistent or his change from weak to persistent had been more logical, I would have rated the book with 4 stars. The ending was a little abrupt as well.I think this was an excellent debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Attica Locke!
adpaton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not dire just drear which ¿ in the long run ¿ is almost as bad: set in the 1980s, Black Water Rising is the story of Jay Porter, a black storefront lawyer, and his reluctant involvement in corruption, cover-ups and murder.In his activist youth, Jay was swept up in the radical politics of the 60s but after a close brush with imprisonment he has settled for the quiet respectability of family life. But one sweltering hot Houston night he is drawn into a murder and compelled to investigate, although it means revisiting the dark secrets of his past, and risking not only his future happiness but his very life.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jay Porter is an African-American attorney living in oil-rich Houston, Texas in the early 1980s. He deals mostly in small civil cases, but Jay is far from the stereotypical wealthy, flashy lawyer. He also struggles with his past. His father was killed before Jay was born, a victim of racial violence. Jay was active in the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, and in 1970 he was arrested and served time in jail before being acquitted. One night, Jay and his wife Bernie are out on a boat -- a special treat for Bernie's birthday -- and they rescue a woman from the water. A few days later, Jay learns the woman was likely involved in a crime. As a black man with an arrest record, Jay is rightly afraid of becoming involved, and decides not to contact the police to share what he knows.But he can't help himself from doing a bit of amateur sleuthing. As Jay digs into the story behind the rescued woman, he uncovers a web of corporate greed and corruption. And clearly, someone wants Jay out of the way: a man driving a black Ford LTD keeps turning up and threatening him. As the situation escalates and becomes increasingly violent, it also becomes clear -- to the reader, if not to Jay -- that no one can be trusted.On the surface, this is a pretty good crime thriller. Many have questioned why this book was nominated for the 2010 Orange Prize. Attica Locke brings 1980s Houston to life, showing how an entire region depended on a single industry. But she also exposes deep-seated societal issues, including labor relations and racism, which bring richness and depth to this story, setting it apart from more routine works in this genre.
TerryWeyna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Black Water Rising, nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, is well-written, more assured than most first novels. The prose is smooth and the dialogue solid, perhaps an indication of Attica Locke¿s experience as a screenwriter. But this experience did not save Locke from a somewhat surprising problem: Black Water Rising has pacing problems that make it drag badly. Locke seems to have been so interested in telling a story about the civil rights movement in Houston in the early 1980s ¿ one to which her family apparently has connections ¿ that she overplotted the book, trying to fit in too many details, too many subplots, too many digressions. The subject matter is inherently interesting, especially in the hands of a black woman writing a generation later; each subplot is unusual and interesting in and of itself. But the tangle created by all these threads is not sufficiently untangled by the end of the book, and worse, the reader doesn¿t much care by that point because character has been is sacrificed to elucidation. We¿re supposed to root for the protagonist, Jay Porter, to come out on top, but he¿s a hard fellow to give a damn about. Thus, while the novel starts out promisingly, the novel as a whole is seriously flawed.Jay Porter is an African-American in Houston in 1981. He practices law without a great deal of success, representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases that have little value. Jay lives with his wife, Bernie, who is heavily pregnant with their first child. On a hot, humid night, Jay takes Bernie out for her birthday, though the celebration is far from lavish; a client has offered his decrepit barge for a cruise on the bayou. Bernie¿s sister has helped prepare the barge, decorating and providing within Jay¿s means: ¿Inside the cabin there are balloons instead of flowers, hot links and brisket instead of filet, and a cooler of beer and grape Shasta instead of wine.¿ But Bernie is happy, because this represents quite a bit of fuss, and that¿s what she really wants. So the couple is headed for a decent night out.But events conspire against them. As they¿re floating along, they hear a woman call out for help, followed by gunshots and a splash. Jay, reluctant to get involved, is persuaded by Bernie ¿ shamed might be a better word ¿ to jump to the rescue. He fishes a woman out of the water, but she refuses to tell them anything about what happened, insisting instead that they simply drop her at the police station.Although Jay hopes that he has seen the end of it with this tidy rescue, it quickly becomes apparent that things will not resolve themselves this easily. Jay learns that a man¿s body has been discovered in a car very close to the spot where Jay rescued the woman from the water. And before too long, Jay is pressured to keep his mouth shut about what he knows. He¿d have been content to do that in the first place, but once the threats and the bribes start, he no longer feels safe in ignoring the situation. As time goes on, the rescue starts to have all sorts of consequences for a dockworkers¿ strike, an oil company¿s future, Houston¿s economy and the political viability of Houston¿s mayor, who just happens to be an old ¿ and white ¿ girlfriend of Jay¿s, who may or may not have ratted him out to federal agents in his not-nearly-distant-enough past.So much gets piled on this single event that the plots and subplots start to teeter. At the same time, we¿re dealing with Bernie¿s pregnancy, Jay¿s lost gun, a personal injury case involving a lawyer who might be crooked, Houston politics, civil rights, racial violence, union politics, oil stored in old salt mines, high gas prices ¿ it¿s just too much to keep track of, or for Locke to ultimately resolve well. Some subplots peter out to almost nothing, others are never satisfactorily played out, and it becomes impossible to tie everything together into one lovely knot.Locke has enough plot in this one novel to fuel at least two others as
jbrubacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jay Porter takes his wife on a cruise down the Buffalo Bayou, and en route they hear a woman screaming, and gunshots. His decision to stop the boat and help sends him on a path that threatens both their lives, reveals the truth about the American oil industry, and calls back to the civil rights movement and Jay's involvement in University. Many, many threads are woven through this book and they aren't all fixed up by the end. The writing is clear and enjoyable but now and then staggers under the weight of the politics and history. Flashbacks slow things down even further. This is a great book but not an easy one. It's fascinating to me that it was inspired by the author's own life, except in her case they didn't stop the boat.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jay Porter is struggling. He lives in a cramped little apartment with his pregnant wife, a woman he has known since she was thirteen years old, and he wonders if they can ever afford a better home. Porter, a player during the Black Power movement of the 1960s, is now a lawyer with a cheap, strip mall office and an incompetent secretary he can just afford. His clients are walk-ins and referrals who can barely afford to pay him at all, much less an amount that would offer Porter a decent profit for his work. So, when one of those clients arranges a free boat ride down Houston¿s Buffalo Bayou in lieu of a cash payment, Porter accepts the deal and decides to celebrate his wife¿s birthday on the little boat.As the boat makes its way through the heart of downtown Houston in near total darkness, the Porters and the boat¿s captain are startled by a woman¿s desperate screams for help. It is impossible to see the woman or her attacker from the boat but, as they are paused to listen, the three soon hear the sounds of someone rolling down the bayou¿s steep bank and splashing into the water. Porter manages to get the barely breathing woman into the boat but, because he fears getting involved in the problems of this white woman, he brings her to the police station¿s front door and slips away before anyone can see him or get his name.It is only when he sees the story in the newspaper that Porter learns that the woman he rescued may not have been a victim at all - she might, instead, be a murderer. Still reluctant to get involved, Porter only learns how much trouble he is in when a stranger offers to pay him for his silence about what he saw and heard the night of the murder. The man leaves Porter with two choices: take the money and remain silent or be shut up for good.Attica Locke has here the makings of an intriguing story about a former Black Power radical trying to make his way through the still tense racial attitudes of 1981 Houston, Texas. She does, in fact, do a remarkable job of capturing the mood and atmosphere of 1980s Houston, a period during which the city was facing almost uncontrollable growth in both population and serious crime. It was a time when whole neighborhoods were off limits after dark to whites and blacks alike, high crime black neighborhoods whites did not dare enter and high income white neighborhoods where blacks drew the immediate attention of Houston cops.Locke, though, makes the mistake of creating two additional subplots that do little more than complicate her story. First, she gets Jay Porter involved with a young man who has been beaten by union thugs who want to head off an economically crippling strike by dockworkers at the Houston port facilities. Next, she exposes Porter to a plot by Big Oil to manipulate the price of gasoline at the pump, a plan about which only one old white man and Porter seem to care. These subplots overwhelm the more interesting, and plausible, mystery of the woman in the bayou and eventually begin to seem almost cartoonish - especially in the way that Big Oil is represented in the most stereotypical way possible. Few of the associated characters seem real and, as a result, even Porter and his wife become less sympathetic characters.And that is a shame because the first chapter of "Black Water Rising" is one of the best lead chapters I have read in a while. This could, and should, have been a very different book.Rated at: 2.5
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wasn't a perfect thriller, but it was a really good one. Set in Houston, TX in the '80's, Locke tells the story of Jay Porter, a lawyer who witnesses something bad out on the bayou, but is disinclined to trust the cops.Jay Porter is a wonderful character - a former civil rights activist, burned by a snitch in his group and put on trial, but acquitted. He has come through this experience with a law degree, a wife, a baby on the way, and a not-so-thriving law practice in a strip mall. His life hasn't exactly turned out the way he planned. Riding along with Jay as he sorts through the events he is tangled up in accidentally you can't help but root for him, despite all his damage, despite all his paranoia, despite his imperfections.Locke does a great job of bringing the reader into the Houston of the '80's where it's all about oil, corruption, and growth - growth so fast that the city can't keep up with basic services and toney gated communities must hire their own garbagemen to avoid drowning in their refuse. Locke grew up in Houston and obviously knows the city well. I loved her ability to move through all the various niches - from ghetto to honky tonk to City Hall.Locke is a screenwriter and it shows. The pacing in the book is very cinematic and she really knows how to grab you and keep you reading. Another reviewer compared her to Dennis Lehane and I guess she's working in similar territory if Dennis Lehane was African American and from Houston. The final third of the book gets a little clunky and a little too convoluted as if she threw too many balls in the air at once and doesn't quite know how to make it all work, but this was fresh and entertaining and I hope she writes another one.
pharrm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When the book was done, I really liked it. Took a while to get the ball rolling and maybe the book could have used an edit or two. A young black man growing in TX with more than his share of prejudice. He becomes a lawyer despite an serious arrest in his younger days. Danger falls into his lap when he rescues a woman from the bayou and then the trouble begins. He tries to stay out of it -- but becomes engrossed in what really happened.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little confusing but overall a thoughtful read with thriller components. Set in 1981, the book features Jay Porter, a young-ish black lawyer who reluctantly rescues a white woman from drowning while he & his wife are on a creaky boat ride down the bayou in Houston. He's none too keen on getting involved, as there were shots fired and the woman has strangulation marks on her neck. He drops her off at the police station without going in, and hopes that his involvement ends there, but no such luck. The book delves into Jay's past as a black power activist, his bitterness and distrust of the feds and police, and a murky plot involving racial relations and shady activities by oil businessmen, politicians, and unions. Two thumbs up.
Mumineurope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good plot but ended with no conclusion
EBT1002 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good thriller mystery --- edgy and suspenseful. Set in Houston in 1981 with flashbacks to the early 70s, it' has a Social Justice theme, appealing characters, and a complicated-enough plot. Recommended for followers of Dennis Lehane, etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No I would not recommend this