Pleasantville by Attica Locke

pleasantville

Jay Porter is back.

He was the star of Attica Locke’s intense Black Water Rising, published in 2009.

But I didn’t know Jay Porter until I signed up for this Pleasantville tour. I just jumped onto the tour bandwagon because  I saw Attica Locke’s name and decided, yes, I have to get on this tour. Because her Cutting Season was a great read. Not an easy read. But it was a little dark and twisty and as a result quite intriguing.

I didn’t know that Pleasantville takes place fifteen years after Black Water Rising. You don’t necessarily have to read Black Water Rising before Pleasantville although I would highly recommend it. It took me just a few days to read Black Water Rising. It startled me with its intensity and its complexity. And I couldn’t wait to read Pleasantville – or really, anything else by Attica Locke!

Here’s the synopsis of Pleasantville:

In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Attica Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win.

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, he’s ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville—a hamlet for upwardly mobile blacks on the north side of Houston—Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.

It is marketed as a thriller and it is indeed, thrilling.

And like Black Water Rising, there is far more to the story than just the murder.

There are high stakes here, not just because a young girl has been killed, but because of who has been accused of her murder. There is much manipulation going on, deep and dark family secrets, money under the table, skeletons in the closet, and not to mention all that politicking. Jay is reluctant to be a part of this at first, he is recently widowed and struggling to raise his children. But he reluctantly steps into the courtroom, becomes entangled in this major mess and finds a target on his back.

When I finished Black Water Rising and started on Pleasantville, there was a big part of me that was hoping for things to have gone well for Jay Porter. I had felt very invested in his life after finishing the first book and just wanted the best for him. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who feels that way about characters! So it was a little sad to learn that things aren’t going so well for him. But I like how Locke doesn’t just give in to her characters – or her readers. It’s not about “and they lived happily ever after” here. This is life, and life is hard.

Locke is truly a master at weaving an intriguing web of murder-mystery, the campaign drama of local politics, social commentary, community and more into an intelligent, complex story. It is an intense read, but wonderfully so.

 

Attica LockeAttica 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.

Find out more about Attica at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the tour schedule:

Tuesday, April 14th: Bibliophiliac

Tuesday, April 14th: Crime Fiction Lover

Wednesday, April 15th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Friday, April 17th: Olduvai Reads

Monday, April 20th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Tuesday, April 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, April 22nd: Book Loving Hippo

Monday, April 27th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, April 28th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Wednesday, April 29th: M. Denise Costello

Thursday, April 30th: A Bookworm’s World

Monday, May 4th: My Bookish Ways

Tuesday, May 5th: Reading Reality

Thursday, May 7th: Kritters Ramblings

Friday, May 8th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, May 12th: Tina Says …

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5 thoughts on “Pleasantville by Attica Locke

  1. The only book of hers that I read was Black Water Rising but I felt she insisted on an integrity for her characters/story that made the work stand apart: good stuff. I’m keen to read her next two, including this one. And your review has only made that craving intensify: thanks!

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