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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Black Water Rising: A Novel - Attica Locke This murder-mystery-thriller novel provides a portrayal of 1980s Houston, Texas through the eyes of a young African American lawyer who has a past history of involvement in the black power movement of the late 60s. It is one man's personal journey told through flashbacks of past experiences intermixed with the current story that occurs during the Reagan administration of the 1980s. The time may be post civil rights legislation, but racial feelings are still raw. From the perspective of the main character, all whites (including the police) are bad, dangerous, threatening or untrustworthy people. Thus this book provides a virtual window for white readers into the black experience of dealing with structural racism supported by moneyed power structures. (I'm not qualified to speculate on the experience of the black reader.)

It's interesting to note the parts of the story that remind the reader of the time and place being described. One clue is the lingering aftermath of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and the beginning indications of the 80s oil glut. Another 1980s fact of life is that it seems that everybody is smoking in offices and public places. (Amazing we didn't all die of second hand smoke.) Also, nobody has a cell phone. (Life was so dangerous then with no cell phones to call for help when needed.)

This is a well written mystery that keeps the reader guessing along with the protagonist. I liked the way the author managed to haunt the current story with flashbacks to parallel stories from the past. I also liked its ending that included the aspect of hope, but remained short of a "happily ever after" conclusion. (Much more realistic that way.)

I heard the author speak about the book at the KC Plaza Library on March 21, 2012.