WINNER OF THE HARPER LEE PRIZE FOR LEGAL FICTION
Wall Street Journal BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEY’S WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
From Attica Locke, a writer and producer of FOX’s Empire, this sophisticated thriller sees lawyer Jay Porter—hero of her bestseller Black Water Rising—return to fight one last case, only to become embroiled 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 his career-defining case against Cole Oil, Jay Porter is broke and tired. That victory might have won the environmental lawyer fame, but thanks to a string of appeals, he hasn't seen a dime. His latest case—representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire—is dragging on, shaking his confidence and raising doubts about him within this upwardly mobile black community on Houston's north side. Though Jay still believes in doing what's right, he is done fighting other people's battles. Once he has his piece of the settlement, the single father is going to devote himself to what matters most—his children.
His plans are abruptly derailed when a female campaign volunteer vanishes on the night of Houston's mayoral election, throwing an already contentious campaign into chaos. The accused is none other than the nephew and campaign manager of one of the leading candidates—a scion of a prominent Houston family headed by the formidable Sam Hathorne. Despite all the signs suggesting that his client is guilty—and his own misgivings—Jay can't refuse when a man as wealthy and connected as Sam asks him to head up the defense. Not if he wants that new life with his kids. But he has to win.
Plunging into a shadowy world of ambitious enemies and treacherous allies armed with money, lies, and secrets, Jay reluctantly takes on his first murder trial—a case that will put him and his client, and an entire political process, on trial.
Locke's gripping thriller opens on election night 1996, when a teenage girl disappears from Pleasantville, a predominantly black Houston suburb. Her body is found, raising eerie comparisons to two other unsolved murders, and attorney Jay Porter, introduced in 2009's Black Water Rising, reluctantly agrees to represent murder suspect Neal Hathorne. Neal, the grandson of Pleasantville power broker Sam Hathorne, is campaign manager for his uncle, who's facing a run-off mayoral election against the district attorney whose office is prosecuting Neal raising the possibility that the murder charge, based on flimsy evidence, is a political stunt. Jay, a former civil rights activist struggling to keep his law practice afloat, navigates a convoluted maze of dark money, family secrets, and high-powered manipulation that threatens his and his loved ones' safety. Locke rushes her treatment of the murders and a subplot about the pregnancy of Jay's teenage daughter's best friend, but the twist-filled plot will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.
This follow up to “Black Water Rising” was an even better book. The story of Jay Porter continues almost 15 years after the last book ended. Locke exquisitely reveals Jay’s emotions, his devastating heartbreak, and his conflicting desires. She also touches on the slimy side of politics, without getting preachy about it. Solid plot, and outstandingly well written. I highly recommend it!