Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review: "Black Water Rising" by Attica Locke

It's 1981 in Houston, Texas. The country is in the throes of the oil crisis. Struggling lawyer Jay Porter and his pregnant wife are taking a nighttime boat ride in celebration of her birthday when Jay rescues a woman from drowning. She appears to have been assaulted, so he drops her off at the police station. And then Jay's troubles start, when after several days he learns a man was murdered that night and the prime suspect is the woman he rescued.

Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Jay is more than just another struggling lawyer—as a college student he was actively involved in student civil rights issues, which led to his being watched to the FBI and, ultimately, his arrest and a trial. That experience continues to haunt him and make him suspicious of those around him, and as he finds himself torn between wanting to figure out exactly what happened with the woman that night and wanting to protect himself, his family and his career, he finds the old suspicions and fears returning once again.

This book has some political intrigue, corporate bad guys, race relations, labor issues and some interesting plot development, but I still wished I liked the whole thing a bit more. I felt that Attica Locke (cool name for an author) spent a lot of time setting up the story and then didn't do enough to keep the story moving beyond what you'd expect to happen. I liked the main character, and some of the action is enjoyable, but I felt the book got a bit mired in civil rights history from time to time. Still, this was an interesting read.

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