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Black Water Rising Paperback – 12 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (12 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687297
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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 (James Ellroy)

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

Started reading Black Water Rising with my morning coffee and barely set it aside until I'd finished it that evening - that's the kind of grip it has. Attica Locke serves up a rich stew of venal politicians and legal chicanery in which staying alive is hard enough and hanging on to your integrity harder still. Longshoremen, Civil Rights and Big Oil - John Grisham meets Chinatown in 1980s Texas (John Harvey 2009-05-18)

Black Water Rising is a terrifying reminder of how recently America was a very bad place to be young, gifted and black. This is an authentic, atmospheric debut that burns with an entirely reasonable anger (Val McDermid)

the most impressive crime debut I've read this year (Marcel Berlins The Times)

[An] atmospheric, richly convoluted debut novel... she is able to write about Jay's urgent need to behave manfully and become a decent father with a serious, stirring moral urgency akin to that of George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane... subtle and compelling (Janet Maslin New York Times 2009-06-22)

You can almost feel the sweat dripping off this tale; not just the humid heat of Houston but the blowtorch of moral obligation on the underbelly of self-preservation. (Courier Mail, Brisbane Australia 2009-10-10)

Expect plenty more great reads from this talented author. (Image (also in Insider))

Black Water Rising is both an exceptional debut and a novel that strays far outside traditional thriller territory into something both more obsessive and enlightening (Mercury Magazine Australia 2010-01-16)

Black Water Rising, the thrilling debut novel by Attica Locke, crackles along. A film and television scriptwriter for ten years, Locke know how to sustain a narrative... This is no ordinary thriller - both Locke's parents were involved in the civil rights movement and her words have a passionate truth that evokes a real moral urgency (Linda Leatherbarrow New Books 2010-10-09)

A crime writer of great promise (Joan Smith Culture (Sunday Times Supp) 2009-11-29)

Attica Locke's real achievement here is a virtually seamless marriage of social comment and slick crime action... It's a debut that propels this young, African-American writer into the upper stratum of crime fiction (Christopher Fowler FT 2009-12-05)

A powerful and skilfully constructed conspiracy thriller - Chinatown without the air of despairing fatalism... Locke has an extraordinary gift for reinvigorating tired thriller conventions (John O'Connell Guardian 2009-11-28)

Superbly written and hugely compelling debut crime novel... Black Water Rising's depths and concerns are much wider than the simple thrills it also provides. Locke is excellent at the bringing the city to life... An impressive, well-plotted and intelligent crime drama (Independent 2009-11-27)

Smart, gripping tale set among the fallout of American's Civil Rights movement... Rich with details drawn from the lives of Locke's parents, for the most part this serves as a thoughtful, albeit often depressing look at the way in which the idealism of the 1960s ground to a halt, ripped from both within and without (Andrzej Lukowski Metro Life 2009-11-12)

Attica Locke has delivered a stunning debut with Black Water Rising... Attica Locke has conjoined crime noir and the Afro-American fight for justice and created a powerful literary pot oiler (Bookseller 2009-08-14)

Locke, whose day job is screenwriting and is currently writing a HBO mini-series about the civil rights movement, gets the blend of social commentary, characterisation, mystery and action just right (Miles Fielder List 2009-11-05)

Attica Locke's first books is a winner... [Locke] creates very vivid scenes and incorporates numerous filmic hints and moments into her long, tense and original first novel (Jessica Mann Literary Review 2010-11-09)

An even better book than its author had in mind... This book cleverly replaces the kind of cold-war paranoia that used to animate thrillers with racial paranoia instead (Charles McGrath New York Times)

[Locke] organises her powerful material with impressive assurance (Sunday Times Magazine)

A strongly written, gripping read (The Daily Mail 2009-11-06)

James Ellroy thinks Locke is great, which is surely recommendation enough (Alastair Mabbott The Herald 2009-11-14)

Attica Locke's debut as a crime writer has been hailed on both sides of the Atlantic: in her native US, the acknowledged greats such as James Ellroy and George Pelecanos have saluted her, and here our own enthusiasts have been equally excited. So what's it all about? Partly it's about the ideal combination of plot and author, something which, when it works, is guaranteed to whet the public's appetite... A complicated, sinister narrative follows, with many twists and turns or perception and many well-plotted surprises (Antonia Fraser The Lady 2010-01-26)

Black Water Rising is an excellent book by any measure, but as a debut, it is nothing short of astonishing (Bruce Tierney Bookpage)

[Attica Locke] makes an astonishingly accomplished debut with her literary thriller Black Water Rising. It's a completely absorbing, gorgeously written early-1980s story, centering on a struggling black lawyer who's still emotionally trapped by the repercussions of his involvement in the civil rights movement (Joy Tipping The Dallas Morning News)

This smart, gripping tale set among the fallout of America's Civil Rights movement serves as a thoughtful look at the way in which the idealism of the 1960s ground to a halt (Metro London 2009-11-17)

Attica locke's Black Water Rising was another excellent debut, combining a tale of high-level machinations in 1980s Houston with a consideration of the fallout of the US civil rights movement. Jay Porter is the beautifully drawn protagonist; a shell-shocked veteran of the fight for equality whose attempts to uncover what happened one night on the bayou bring him unsettlingly close to the history he's tried to forget (Metro 2009-11-23)

Attica Locke delivers an unforgettable debut thriller set in America's Deep South (New Books Magazine)

This is one of the best, most gripping novels I have read for a very long time (Alan Lloyd Morning Star 2010-04-15)

Book Description

Serpent's Tail lead crime

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By R. Shear VINE VOICE on 26 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The debut novel of author Attica Locke, Black Water Rising, is an excellent and atmospheric read.

The novel is set in 1980's Houston and begins simply enough: Lawyer Jay and his wife Bernadine are on a boat on the bayou celebrating her birthday, when they hear gunshots and see a woman plunge into the water. Jay rescues her and drops her off at the local poice station.

From here the story spins into multiple plotlines, Jay investigating the mystery woman after the boat-captain turns up dead, Jay becoming involved in a strike of the black Houston dockworkers at the behest of his father-in-law and flashbacks to Jay's own polical past in the Black Power movement in the 1960's. This last thread resonates into the present as Jay's former girlfried from his radical days is now Mayor of Houston. Underlying all of this is the Oil industry and the sinister figures in it's upper echelons.

The other reviews for this novel have been very mixed, but for me, this multi-strand plot works very well, is wonderfully faced, and to the author's credit, the novel surpasses the simple crime thriller genre to capture an authentic slice of American history. The author clearly knows Houston and it's history inside out and is able to beautifully recreate the time and transport you there. It reminds me very much of the novels of JAMES LEE BURKE and his wonderful evocations of New Orleans.

This is not a generic, throwaway thriller with implausible twists that make you wince with embarrassment, like the recent books by Jeffrey Deaver, but a thought-provoking and haunting novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By OEJ TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set in 1981 Houston, Texas, this brings together three stories of which two are inspired by real events. The semi-factual elements are the (by then) pretty much redundant civil rights movement as championed by Martin Luther King, and the longshoremen strike in Houston dock in the early years of the Reagan era. The fictional tale entwined within these revolves around black lawyer Jay Porter, who rescues a woman from what might or might not have been an attempt on her life, and his subsequent involvement in the various union protests which to a large extent centre on racial discrimination. Towards the second half of the story, the emphasis shifts towards high-level corruption within the oil industry, and their attempts to keep prices high at a time when demand falls short of supply and the big oil companies adopt some highly dubious measures to store unused oil, methods that endanger the lives of hundreds if not thousands of residents living close to the secret storage facilities.

I liked this. The writing style is at all times polished and even classy, and the author should be complemented for achieving this in a first-time-out publication. I think it's fair to say that I was interested in all of the real-life political threads, and can understand other readers finding the book less than gripping if this aspect holds no appeal to them. The fictional tale is quite good and upheld by consistently vivid character-creation and development. Most of the story is related in the present tense, something I always find a distraction, but in this case it was used as a deliberate instrument to aid the reader differentiate between the present-day events (in 1981) and the baggage that Jay Porter carries around with him dating back a decade or more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By panda on 28 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading this I felt like it would have made one of those complicated American law movies - then I read on the back that the author is a script writer. The book just seems to touch on the issues of black American history but not really get there in an emotive way, and any action or passion is dealt with fairly quickly to return to more mundane references. It coulkd have been a lot shorter - or there could have been some more explanation of the history and the momentous events of those times for a white reader in the UK like me, who is interested in black history. I wanted to like it but really struggled to keep picking the book up -(I had to as it was or book group choice!). It got more interesting about two-thirds of the way through, then ended a bit disappointingly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Blue Moon on 17 May 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded this with great expectations as I love reading new authors, however this book made very little impression on me and to be honest I got bored quite quickly.
It had all the promise for a good story ie Civil Rights,Southern politics and the Oil industry but failed to deliver.
This was such a shame because despite my lack of enthusiasm Attica Locke still has good writing skills and I think she is one to watch.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Willis on 28 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is set in Houston Texas during the 1980s. While on a boat ride with his wife, the main character Jay hears gun shots and a scream and then sees a woman fall into the water. Jay rescues her, but in doing so becomes entangled in a murder investigation.

This book for me can be summed up in one infuriating sentence; `If he'd only gone to the police in the first place the whole thing could have been cleared up a lot quicker.' This is what I kept repeating to myself every time Jay got himself in yet more trouble as his situation become more and more convoluted in a plot that seemed to involve everyone all the way up to the Mayor of Houston itself. No really, it goes up as far as the Mayor.

It would not be fair to just dismiss this book as a standard crime novel as there are other elements packed in there such as the civil rights movement, corruption in the oil industry and union strikes and despite all these plot elements the story is quite easy to follow. Unfortunately this also involved many secondary characters who were not fleshed out sufficiently; the motivation for the `bad guy' for example is never fully explained and even Jay himself at times just seems to be there as a plot device.

While Jay runs around trying to get himself out of the mess he put himself in (if only he'd gone to the police) there are flashbacks to his life as a student when he was involved in the civil rights movement which included some jail time and the town Mayor. Yes that's right, that pesky Mayor again who features quite a lot yet we learn little about her, except that everything seems to involve her at some point whether its some plot involving oil or Jays personal life.
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