cover image Black Water Rising

Black Water Rising

Attica Locke. Harper, $25.99 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-06-173586-8

Set in 1981, Lockes compelling if unwieldy debut charts the moral struggles of Jay Porter, a black lawyer in Houston, Tex. Porter, who knows far more about a murder near one of the citys bayous than do the police, doesnt want to come forward largely because of his own criminal past as well as a secret relationship with Houstons female mayor. Another reason is that Porter, having fought his way out of the ghetto, is now striving for a more comfortable lifestyle with his wife and new baby. Why get tangled up in a messy murder, even if it could mean preventing the conviction of an innocent person? Locke, a screenwriter with both film and TV credits (including a forthcoming HBO miniseries about the civil rights movement), steers a gritty drama to a satisfying end, though a sluggish subplot involving labor union issues undermines the novels grander ambitions. A leaner, meaner version was an opportunity missed, yet Locke remains an author to watch. ""(June)"" .