Title: Black Water Rising
Author: Attica Locke
Publication Year: 2009
Source: Received from HarperCollins via The Savvy Reader
After responding to this post about HarperCollins having three books on the shortlist for this year’s Orange Prize, saying that I hadn’t read any of the three, either … I got an email with an offer to send the three for me to read and review. I definitely went for it, since they all looked like great books!
Black Water Rising, the first of the three that I decided to tackle, definitely did not disappoint. This is the description from the back of the book:
Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall—where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl—and he’s determined to leave the sins of his past buried: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him. That is, until the night he saves a woman from drowning and inadvertently opens a Pandora’s box. Her secrets reach into the upper echelons of Houston’s corporate power brokers and ensnare Jay in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family . . . even his life.
What this doesn’t tell you is that Jay is an African-American man who saves a white woman from drowning in the bayou in a very poor, very black neighbourhood, and that she refuses to say anything to him, his wife, or the boat’s driver. It also doesn’t tell you that Jay has a history in the Black Power Movement, and that this history is a very important part of the story, its effect on him (and some of the other characters) a key characteristic that determines how he thinks and behaves. All of this makes for a really interesting story.
It’s also interesting to me that this is Locke’s debut novel coming from a screenwriting background. This is definitely something that is an integral part of her writing – the way she sets up scenes and describes characters and situations is extremely reminiscent of the type of disclosure found in thriller and mystery-type films or television. While some – such as a Washington Post review that I read on the Amazon page for the book – might think that this is a bad thing, I actually think that it’s to Locke’s benefit. It made her writing style interesting right from the beginning, making it stand out as unique and catch my attention.
All in all, I had a fabulous time reading this book. The only real negative thing that I can say about it is that I usually disgareed with how Jay decided to act – I kept wanting to scream at him to just do something else, dammit!, but that also played in quite nicely into his psychology and the way that his past was affecting his present and future. I found Black Water Rising to be quite enjoyable. If you’ve also read it, let me know what you think!
- 35/50 for the 50 Book Challenge