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. His relationships with his wife and his former sort-of-girlfriend and now Mayor of Houston are particularly well drawn.
I made what I now know to be the mistake of leaving this on my to-be-read shelf for about two years; it turned out to be a more than decent read, even if I'd lean more towards 'interesting' rather than thrilling. There are some exciting set-pieces though and these too were written very well. Overall, this gets the thumbs-up from me, and Attica Locke shows great promise for the future.