l read and enjoyed Attica Locke's second novel, The Cutting Season, a few years ago. (my review) But, I hadn't read her first book Black Water Rising featuring attorney Jay Porter. Porter returns in Locke's newest book Pleasantville.
1996. A young girl goes missing after a night of handing out flyers in the Houston neighbourhood of Pleasantville. Two other young women have been killed on the streets in the near past, but the crimes remain unsolved. There's also a fierce electoral race running for the mayor of Houston - and Pleasantville has put forward a candidate. When a family member of the local candidate is arrested for the murder of this last girl, Jay is brought in to defend him. But is he guilty or is the accusation a political tactic?
I enjoyed Jay as a lead character. He's not a perfect man, but he's trying his best as a single father. He's also struggling with doing the right thing for his clients in the class action suit from Black Water Rising, but is growing tired of it all.
Locke has penned a complex political/legal thriller, with the murder part of the plot taking a back seat. It's very well written. But, I found myself having to put it down every so often as the plot has so many myriad threads and players that I started to glaze over. I found the first part of the book slow going, but things picked up as the action moved into the courtroom. This is a personal bias though, as I find political machinations tedious. But, that being said, Locke's plotting is also excellent - and somewhat frightening. I honestly think that what she has presented in a fictional setting has its roots in reality - and corruption. Locke explores that theme, as well as family, class and race with a deft hand. Read an excerpt of Pleasantville.
It was only on reading the author's notes that I discovered that Pleasantville is an actual place in Texas. I wonder how much of Locke's story is based on fact?
Attica Locke is the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Black Water Rising, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was shortlisted for the UK's Orange Prize. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. You connect with Attica Locke on her website, as well as on Facebook and on Twitter. (Fun fact - Attica Locke is also a writer on Fox's tv drama Empire)
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