Locke’s debut is good summer read

By Carolyn Lessard
Associated Press Writer
“Black Water Rising,” by Attica Locke; HarperCollins, 448 pages, $25.99
Jay Porter, an overworked attorney with a foundering practice, wants to surprise his pregnant wife on her birthday with a private, romantic moonlight cruise.
When he sees the rickety vessel, it’s not at all what he expected, but they make the best of it. It seems his best intentions result in disappointing setbacks. But in the face of mounting odds, Jay perseveres. It is a recurring theme in Attica Locke’s riveting debut thriller, “Black Water Rising.”
The story is set in 1981, after the crippling Arab oil embargo of the 1970s and the resulting boom of Houston’s petroleum industry. At a time of growth and prosperity, Porter is exceedingly paranoid. Weary of the police, he keeps three guns nearby, including an unregistered .22 under his pillow.
Eleven years ago he was falsely charged with inciting a riot and conspiracy to commit murder of a federal agent, after violence broke out at a campus rally. During that time, the government often planted spies to infiltrate and subvert radical civil rights groups. After a two week trial, the jury found him not guilty.
Now coasting down the bayou, he hears screams, then gunshots and finally the sound of a woman drowning. Jay is reluctant to get involved at first but he saves the woman and leaves her on the steps of the police station. Whether out of curiosity or a need to do the right thing, he investigates the events of that night after learning there was a murder.
As he unravels the mystery, he discovers that the cases he’s handling — an unofficial murder investigation, a labor dispute and a personal injury claim for a prostitute — have ties to the most powerful man in town.
Attica Locke is a vivid storyteller. She interlaces events with flashbacks of Jay Porter’s past, providing a seamless fit. Without pretense, she provides an engaging story about one man’s enduring struggle for justice and equality.
It’s a must for your summer reading list.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.