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Black Water Rising: SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010…
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Black Water Rising: SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010 ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION (urspr publ 2009; utgåvan 2009)

av Attica Locke (Författare)

Serier: Jay Porter [Locke] (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
7295122,582 (3.54)1 / 171
When African-American lawyer Jay Porter jumps into the bayou to save a drowning white woman in Houston, Texas, in 1981, he finds his practice and life in danger when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving Houston's elite.
Medlem:Colesa
Titel:Black Water Rising: SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010 ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION
Författare:Attica Locke (Författare)
Info:Serpent's Tail (2009), Edition: Main, 448 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Visa 1-5 av 51 (nästa | visa alla)
This dragged in a few places but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.
Jay is a former member of SNCC who gets frustrated and forms a Black Panther style Black Liberation group in the 70's. COINTELPRO begins to convict his friends on trumped up charges, out right murdering Fred Hamilton.
Jay is arrested, beats his charge and goes to law school. 10 years later he's noticing that the few comrades of his that slipped through the government's fingers are still being watched.
Into this tension drops a chance encounter that is much more than it appears on the surface. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
First off, I’m thrilled to have found Locke’s work. After a time-consuming search for legal thrillers by someone other than white males, it was easy to obtain a copy of her book. By the end of the first chapter, I was “hooked” by her writing, and I’d also been moved to tears. Quite an accomplishment.

What didn’t work for me:

1. The ending felt somewhat unresolved. There are some minor plot strings left dangling, but I believe it’s preparation for the sequel, Pleasantville.

2. My other quibble is that Locke switches between the first and last names of minor characters within the same scene. A character named “Donnie Simpson” is called both Mr. Simpson and Donnie within a few lines. It gives the impression that there are two characters rather than one. I noticed the same issue in a scene with another lawyer, his client, and an oil corporation executive. This can be confusing.

What works for me:

Jay.
He is a “broken man” (pg. 249). His past felony arrest colors everything in his life. He narrowly escaped conviction because of one juror. Locke is good at finding the telling details that highlight his fears as a black man who escaped a felony charge.

His complicated connections with people he’d like to forget are integrated into the present conflict. He can’t avoid the woman who betrayed him. He can’t avoid his old friend from the civil rights movement. He can’t avoid his past, though he tries.

He’s torn between silence and speaking. His wife wants him to “let her inside” but he won’t. He can’t. Though his silence damages their relationship, he’s too afraid to break his habit of silence and lying. He monitors every encounter for signs of possible betrayal or danger. At one point, he drives to Pasadena, where a welcome sign states “Proud home to the KKK.”

I reacted with horror. Jay?
“In an odd way, Jay finds the sign comforting. He has come to appreciate these kinds of visual clues.” (Black Water Rising, pg. 133)He muses that he feels the same about Confederate flags in truck windows. “It’s a caution before trouble starts, offering a clean window of time in which to make a run for it” (pg. 133). That’s not a view I, as a white woman, would have imagined. But Jay does. He is a vividly-drawn character.

The setting.
Locke uses everything from smells to the subject of a talk radio show to recreate Houston in the early 1980s. I noticed that she uses the call-in radio show both to reflect Jay’s internal tension and to increase tension about the strike, the threats of violence, and the differing viewpoints of the racial minority and majority.

The view of the legal system.
This is definitely not a typical middle-to-upper class white person’s point of view:
“That he’s an innocent man, as he was back then, all those years ago, is no real comfort. He knows cops and prosecutors have a natural talent for bending evidence, twisting the truth this way and that, all in the same of putting somebody behind bars.” (Black Water Rising, pg. 188)Is this cynical? Maybe. Is it based on his experiences? Yes. Is he wrong? It depends on your viewpoint.

After saving the drowning woman’s life, he drops her off at the police station but won’t tell the police anything about their encounter: “He knows first hand the long, creative arm of Southern law enforcement, knows when he ought to keep his mouth shut.” (Black Water Rising, pg. 22-23) The other characters.
Locke vividly portrays people like the Reverend (his father-in-law), his wife Bernie, his friend/not-quite-legal investigator Rolly, even his sister-in-law Evelyn. The unsympathetic ones are well written, too. The almost-victimized female, other lawyers, the white female mayor: they are complex characters with competing motives. Some are desperate to shed their pasts. Others are trying to hold onto both the past and present. Even the walk-on people, like the other strikers, the union leadership, etc. are vivid to me.

The integration of past and present.
There are multiple flashback chapters about Jay’s past involvement in the civil rights movement as an idealistic college student. But I never felt jerked between past and present. Locke shows the effect of one on the other. The flashbacks make sense and work in the context of the present story line.

Bottom line: Read this book. ( )
  MeredithRankin | Jun 7, 2019 |
Terrific first novel. Set in Houston in the 80s Locke is razor sharp on racial politics and fear that comes from the gut. There's also some nifty actual politics which hold the story up long enough to delve into some classic noir tropes. I really enjoyed this. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Nice crime fiction mystery story that includes narratives about the African-American experience vis-a-sis the criminal justice system in the USA. I enjoyed the story line and learned about the perspective of victims and lawyers. I'd recommend this book; and I'll try an locate other books by this author. ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Sep 22, 2018 |
This novel, set in 1981, introduces Jay Porter, an African-American defence attorney based in Houston, who will reappear in as protagonist of Pleasantville, set some quarter of a century later in Dallas. As the book opens, Porter and his heavily pregnant wife Bernie are about to board a rather dilapidated boat to sail down the bayou while having a romantic dinner to celebrate her birthday. Money is tight, and Porter has arranged the trip on the cheap through a recent client, although he hadn’t been prepared for the boat to be quite so run down.

Still, the trip goes well and Bernie seems to be enjoying herself until, as they are nearly back at the dock, they hear a woman scream, and then two shots ring out in the night, followed by the sound of running and then someone plunging into the water. Jay and the boat owner are reluctant to become involved, but Bernie persuades them to turn around to investigate. Having done so they find a white woman in an elaborate ball gown swimming in the bayou. They pick her up, and, after they have disembarked, Jay drives her to the nearest police station where he lets her out, but does not offer to accompany her inside. Indeed, he drives away before even checking that she has gone in herself.

We learn that Jay is nervous of any contact with the police because he had previously been a prominent figure, at least locally, in the Civil Rights movement, during the 1960s, and had encountered the rougher side of law enforcement all too closely. Through some extended flashbacks we learn that he had faced trial

The novel is set in 1981, although it offers frequent flashbacks to periods in Porter’s past during which he had been on the periphery of the Black Panthers, and had arranged for Stokely Carmichael to speak to groups at his university. During that time, he had become friendly with a white woman who was herself prominent in several politically active groups. She is now the Democrat mayor of Houston, now a thriving city riding high on oil wealth, and is struggling to maintain peace and order as the city’s docks are faced with the threat of concerted trade union agitation, although there is fierce rivalry and bitterness between the separate unions representing low paid (and predominantly black) longshoremen and the mainly white stevedores and middle management. Against this backdrop, Porter finds himself representing an African-American woman ‘with a looser understanding of social responsibilities’ (a rather gentle euphemism for prostitute) who is seeking damages from a leading white businessman. As that case proceeds by fits and starts, Jay finds himself being followed by a threatening-looking man perpetually wearing dark glasses.

Like Pleasantville, this book is a fascinating blend of political intrigue, courtroom confrontation and whodunit, with a fair sprinkling of the history of the civil rights movement thrown in. Locke crosses genres with ease, and manages the story with great dexterity. Jay Porter is a good man, and an empathetic character, grappling with self-doubt, money worries and the pressures of supporting his family. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 14, 2018 |
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When African-American lawyer Jay Porter jumps into the bayou to save a drowning white woman in Houston, Texas, in 1981, he finds his practice and life in danger when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving Houston's elite.

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