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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A much heralded debut from Attica Locke which captures a real sense of place and time, in this case 80s Texas. All the dialogue rings very true, so it's a very effective 'transporter' of the reader into the heart of a hot and heated Houston.
I do feel its initial, gripping thriller structure, perhaps gets a bit diffused by the second half of the book, Locke seems to be distracted by the numerous threads she's spinning. As some other reviewers have also pointed out, it might be a little overlong as it tries to cram a lot of 'issues' into its pages, whereas a leaner more focussed approach would have made it more satisfying perhaps.
But the ambition, especially in a first novel, is to be admired and certainly marks her out as a name to watch. Recommended for modern crime fans for sure.
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The fascination of this crime novel is not so much the plot itself but rather the background against which it takes place and from which the main characters have developed. Jay, the hero of the novel has a past in the civil rights movement, encomapssing times of peaceful and not so peaceful protest along the way which gives him a heavy history and a rather tired view of life. The novel manages to bring in along the way campus protests, black liberation, affirmative action, unions and discrmination in the work place, repression from the government and exploitation by big business. It traces some of the idealism of the 60's and 70's and how this gave way to some of the pragmatism and indeed cynicism of the Reagan years. All that makes it sound terribly worthy and weighty, but it's all done convincinbly and indeed illuminatingly. Whilst for me this was the particular interest of the book, this serious backdrop never gets in the way of a pacy story that compares favourably with most crime novels. There are twists and turns that are quite unexpected, with a few threads being developed in parallel. Not for the first time our hero's idestrtuctability isn't altogether convincing if you pause to consider it (two witnesses; one killed straight off, the other-our hero-repeatedly warned, threatened or with attempts to buy him off when it would have been easier just to kill him too), but the interest and pace are sustained well enough to overcome this most of the time. Entertaining enough to be a good holiday read, there's enough substance to make it just that bit more worthwhile.
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on 10 June 2011
More political thriller than crime thriller. An outstanding read until near the end.

From reading other reviews, it's clear that one persons "detailed character and storyline build-up" is another persons "too slow and boring". If you like intricate back story and detailed plot development, you will like this novel. If you like stories which get straight to the point, you might find this one heavy going.

At 75% of the way through, I thought this was one of the best novels I had ever read, but was a little dubious the author could conclude the story in the same exceptional way she had done the build up - sadly I was correct.

Given the incredible detail in the build up, and the interesting nature of some of the (none core) sub-plots, the chosen ending for the book seemed a very odd fit - almost as though the author had either run out of steam or the publisher said "finish it or you won't get paid".

The last section of the book contains a chapter about the author and how the storyline came into being; whilst this is interesting enough, it further adds to the shock of the ending because you think you have many more pages to the "end" of the main story than is actually true.

Had the author concluded the story in the same manner as the build up, it could have been an all time great; as it stands, it's just "pretty good".

Still recommended if you can pick up a cheap copy and like detailed characters and back-story.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jay Porter is a young, black lawyer in 1981, in Houston, Texas where there is a still a struggle for civil rights. He is a man with a criminal past, come good. Married with a baby on the way, he is just trying to make a living.

For a birthday celebration for his wife, he takes her on a trip on the Bayou. Whilst out on the boat they hear gunshots and a woman screaming. Jay later rescues the woman from the water.

What follows is a storyline in which Jay is frightened of what he has become caught up in, and this story alone would have been quite interesting. However, unfortunately, the author also wove in a very political tale of oil strikes, and this aspect of the story didn't interest me at all.

The book is supposed to be a thriller, but I wouldn't put it in that category at all. The quality of the writing is good, and for this reason I think the author shows a lot of promise, but the book is ultimately quite a slow read and for that reason I was disappointed with it.
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on 4 February 2011
It wasn't what I expected. Was very very slow. A number of times I gave up on the book but then came back as thought I have paid for it so should finish it.

Didn't enjoy it all, found it boring and the main plot didn't reach any conclusion.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2010
Attica Locke's debut novel is certainly a welcome addition to the scene, and Black Water Rising is the kind of weighty, intelligent thriller of the kind not seen since Tom Wolfe's heyday. A powerful, political book with a gripping story and a steady, confident literary voice. Excellent stuff.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The novel takes place in Houston in the early 1980s. It's a time of rapid growth for the oil-rich Texas city in the wake of the 70s oil crisis and the ensuing price increases and the book deals with some of the issues that follows from this development such as corruption, a growing gap between rich and poor as well as the underlying issues of the inherent racism in the legal system/police force/corporate life at the time.

Jay, a lawyer down on his luck and with a past he would rather forget, becomes embroiled in a dangerous situation when he reluctantly saves a woman from drowning after she has apparently been chased into the bayou by a man trying to shoot her. The woman, well off judging from her designer clothes and jewellery, is unwilling to communicate and seems very much out of place as the ward where Jay saved her is one of the roughest parts of town. Jay and his heavily pregnant wife take her to the police station, but do not enter themselves as Jay's experiences with the FBI/legal system as a young black civil rights campaigner came close to ruin his life and has made him adopt the "keep your head down, speak only when spoken to" approach. The incident does, however, bear on his mind afterwards, and a couple of days later when he reads an article in the newspaper about the murdered body of a white man in the exact spot where he saved the mystery woman, he knows that things are about to get complicated.

His curiosity takes him back to the scene of the crime where he happens upon the groundskeeper who found the dead body and creates a situation that makes him look guilty and easy to track down. When he discovers that he is being followed and the captain of the boat from the fateful night is found dead in a ditch, he slowly starts to crack not knowing whether it is related to the mysterious woman or one of his other cases involving an issue between a black and a white union workers on the docks. His fear of the police keeps him from asking them for their assistance and he starts investigating on his own which leads him on the trail of some of the city's most powerful people.

Attica Locke has created a great atmosphere where you can feel the shadow the oil companies and the deeply ingrained racism has cast over the city. It reads as a fast-paced thriller but it is much more than that with the author's obvious knowledge of the workings of the civil rights movement in the 70s and the corruption in the legal system. It is a great read, and at 400+ pages (none of which seem superfluous), it should keep you entertained for a couple of evenings.
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on 5 October 2015
EXCELLENT
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Great to start the New Year with a really good book! I heard Black Water Rising reviewed on Radio 5 and was eager to read it. I was not disappointed.

Set in Houston, Texas in 1981 it tells of struggling lawyer Jay Porter as he grapples with problems - both personal and professional - in a USA that is still coming to terms with the Civil Rights struggle. Attica Locke creates a wonderful picture of the steamy city which is beset by political corruption, union strife and corporate greed. She makes it very clear to the reader that although many of the demands of black citizens had been met by 1981 there still remained covert racism and many black people still felt they had to be careful in their actions and mistrustful of those in authority.

It is a complex and gripping story. All the characters are well portrayed - from the ambitious manipulative white mayor to Jay's heavily pregnant, highly principled and somewhat neglected wife.

If you like James Lee Burke, Walter Mosley, the TV series The Wire or the film Chinatown then you will love this book.
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on 16 October 2010
This book has everything. Well rounded characters, a plot that keeps you guessing even when you think you know, and descriptions that have you so far into the place that it is hard to come back to reality.
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