Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Black Water Rising and Pleasantville by Attica Locke

2019-09-05 16.08.26

Published: June 9th, 2009 by Amistad
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Format: Kindle, 427 pages, Own
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary: 

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

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.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book I've read of Attica Locke's. This one was just as good. She starts slow and it's a slow burn but one that pays off the last half of the book. Locke has a way of teaching us new things about Houston and its history with race, class, and big oil; and it's all within a fascinating and entertaining story.

Jay is a guy trying to do his best for his family, Bertie, who's pregnant with their first child. She's long-suffering but gives him the space he needs to do his job. He finds help from an old client who's a DIY private investigator and a journalist trying to break open a story.

This is a character-driven and world-driven story. It's slow but it's worth it. I learned a lot about Houston in the early 80s and what big Oil meant for that city and its people.

2019-10-01 09.41.43

Published: April 21st, 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Format: Kindle, 433 pages, Own
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, he's ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville—a hamlet for upwardly-mobile blacks on the north side of Houston—Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.

My Thoughts:

Jay Porter returns 15 years later since the first book of Black Water Rising. We're in the mid-90s and we get a lot of history about that time. It's a fun throw-back with Clinton, etc. Locke uses grief in her story with Jay and his children. Bertie has died from cancer the previous year and him and their kids are in free-fall. 

It's another slow burn the first half. We get character development, a run-down of the first novel plot, and the world of Houston in the mid-90s. Nothing exciting happens until Neal is arrested and Jay agrees to be his lawyer. The mystery wasn't as exciting or intriguing this time around. But the way Locke talks about politics and the formation of PACs and the smashing of voting blocs and the beginning of the end of our political system is flawless and is worth the read, if nothing else. I'm floored at the way Locke can teach us using crime fiction. This is crime fiction that's ethical and has something to say.

Read for R.I.P. 14 and FrightFall 

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