Top positive review
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Superb multi-layered thriller by a future great author
on 26 February 2010
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.