Monday, May 10, 2010
Author: Attica Locke
Genre: mystery/thriller, literary
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Release Date: (hardcover) June 9, 2009
(paperback) April 20, 2010
The New York Times was quoted as saying that the story was "akin" to those by George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane. I haven't read books by either of those authors but have heard great things. What I do think of when I hear those names, however, are thrillers that are mature and have thorough storylines -- not just a simple whodunit.
I found that to be the case with Black Water Rising. It tells the story of Jay Porter and is set in 1981 Texas. He's an attorney barely scraping by. The book starts out with him trying to do something special for his pregnant wife's birthday. During this nice effort, they are accosted by a situation they can't ignore but that leads to more of an involvement in the said situation than they would prefer and they can safely remain a part of.
Despite having his life and that of his wife's threatened, or maybe because of it, Jay sets out to track down the involved individuals and find out the truth about what's happening. Meanwhile, Jay's time is also being consumed in dealing with a labor union strike of the oil workers. His father-in-law, the reverend, put him up to representing one of the families of the strike because of his connections to the white female mayor, Cynthia Maddox. Juxtaposed with these storylines is the one of Jay's past which he shared with Cynthia. As a member of various "radical" groups such as the Black Panthers, Jay was once in the position of being criminally charged in relation to his involvement in these groups and activities. In fact, he can't even rule out that maybe his past has more to do with the current situation than he realizes.
As I said earlier, I found this debut to be thorough and full of plot points that made it a more mature mystery/thriller. The pacing was good -- there weren't thrilling cliff hangers at the end of the chapters like some books in the genre, but there were various moments like these throughout the book where something would be discovered and I'd want to know more. It took me a while to really understand what Jay's past had to do with everything in the current situation, but I still never questioned it because it was such an interesting facet to the book. There is very little I've read about the radical groups so I liked this look into it. The core mystery at the center of Black Water Rising is involved and more satisfying than a simple "who did it with what" type of mystery.
The story was written in present tense, which I didn't really care for (but that's just a personal preference). I didn't always notice it, but it bothered me when I did. But I did realize later that this may have been used for the purpose of separating its narrative from that of Jay's past which was written in past tense. Once I realized that it made more sense to me and didn't bother me as much.
This was a very well written and good debut. While it wasn't my absolute favorite, I did enjoy this read and think that others will too!
Visit Attica Locke at her website, http://www.atticalocke.com/.
Follow the rest of the tour:
Tuesday, May 4th: Book Reviews by Bookluvr81
Monday, May 10th: Take Me Away
Tuesday, May 11th: Rundpinne
Wednesday, May 12th: nomadreader
Thursday, May 13th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, May 18th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, May 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, May 20th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, May 26th: My Two Blessings
Thursday, May 27th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, May 31st: Regular Rumination
Date TBD: Apooo Book Club