May 16, 2011 by Reader's Connection
Let´s start with the big laugh line: Jay doesn´t think he can afford much more than he´s paying at the pumps now, up to $1.37 at the PetroCole station by his house. Don’t get too nutty,though, about the dollar thirty-seven. We’re dealing with an historical novel.
Attica Locke’s 2009 suspense story Black Water Rising is set in Houston in 1981. Jay Porter is an African American lawyer who doesn’t talk much about his history of political involvements and run-ins with the law. For his pregnant wife’s birthday, he takes her on a mini-cruise on one of Houston’s bayous, and of course things don’t go as planned. The boat is dingier than he had hoped it would be, its regular captain doesn’t show, and something unpleasant happens out on the water.
The novel features labor unions in conflict, shady business practices, and politicians with secret pasts of their own. It would be better if I didn’t say much, myself, about the forces at work here, aside from mentioning that Locke does well with her jumps between 1981 and the civil rights turmoils of earlier years.
Take that first ride with Jay and Bernie, and then see if you can pull free of this compelling tale. And–this is just my opinion–I think you should finish the book before you go to Locke’s website and learn how Jay’s bayou incident grew out of the author’s own life.