Sunday, July 4, 2010

Black Water Rising

Attica Locke
Black Water Rising

(Serpent`s Tail, 2010)

Black lawyer Jay Porter who has not enough the money arranges for his wife a short trip by boat across the bay near Houston. Jay himself doesn't really like this night aquatic journey, but it is the most affordable and cheapest option of a small gift for his pregnant wife. Three of them: Jay, his wife and the captain, they slowly wheel through the waves, while a serene rest is not interrupted by the sound of gunfire on the shore. Porter, who grew up in not very affluent neighborhood, knows that it is better not to get involved, especially with having a pregnant wife. He tells the captain to not pay attention, but his wife insists that Jay interjects: someone's life is in danger. Soon they hear the cries of woman and see how a white woman jumped into the water. Porter swims toward her and pulls out of the water. Woman is scared and says nothing. They float on, then moor at the town and decide to take a woman to the police station. Jay drops off the woman at the door of the site and leaves without knowing whether she had gone inside. He thinks he will never see her again.

It would probably be too easy, to stop by on only one of the storyline, but Locke gives a reader not just detective, she worries more of social problems. The father of his wife, the Rev. Boykins, asks him a favor: black workers from the oil companies want to strike until they get the same rights as employees with white skin, so Jay is required to put in a word to the mayor - a girl with whom he had once was close. Jay hesitates, but eventually agrees. However, troubles will be there as well.

Looking at a short retelling of the beginning of the book, you can immediately assume that such a novel would never have written by Russian writer, but also because a number of features there wouldn't be too close for Russian reader. First of all, the protagonist is a lawyer. Secondly, the main character is the Negro. (This combination has already seems impossible, not for nothing that one of the characters in the novel, finding out what Porter is engaged, looks at him and asks: Black lawyer? "- And puts his into the house as if it were a double proof of lawyer's honesty.) Thirdly, racial theme dominates the novel. However, the two layers - crime and race - do not overlap, do not pull the blanket, but supplement each other, making the intrigue multi-faceted and tenser. Chapters alternate: Jay unravels the case of the woman he saved, and helps father-in-law, parallel recalling his first trial: the one where he was nearly sent to prison and the one where he himself stands by counsel.

Despite the fact that the action takes place in 1981, this is also a very modern novel. One can not say, is it plus or minus for this book. Oil, confrontation single man and large corporations, the power of lie - all this makes the novel very urgent. But Locke is not quite able to catch the spirit of that time. If not the figure in the beginning and an example of a real strike, we would have nothing to point us that the novel is set not in 2010. There are no such clues to the level of language and psychology at the characters.

Attica Locke managed to write a very smooth novel: the style is closer to the end does not become crumple and clumsy, there is logic in the behavior of the characters. Though in the end the plot begins to limp, the level of "black water", according to the title, rolls over, but it does not spoil the general impression.

James Ellroy on the cover of the book says it is “the best bad town novel in some time”. It's not quite true: the city in the book plays not the last role, but the main is still people. This book is about how a good man in a bad town remains good.

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