From Publishers Weekly
This extraordinary debut focuses on Jay Porter, a black lawyer in Houston struggling to become upwardly mobile while weighed down by a past as a civil rights worker who was betrayed and disillusioned. His moral fiber is put to the test when he's witness to a murder that eventually places him and his pregnant wife in jeopardy. It's a good thriller setup, but what distinguishes Locke's story are the glimpses into Porter's past, which, in turn, focus on the racial rebellions on campuses in the '60s (the author has written an upcoming HBO miniseries on the civil rights movement). Dion Graham's whispery, almost sing-song narration seems initially inappropriate, but, oddly, as the plot unfolds, this approach morphs into a mesmerizing intimacy that makes Locke's riveting prose even more compelling. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 6). (July)
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Black Water Rising
is an engrossing, complex, and cinematic novel about ethics and convictions, race relations, and one man's personal journey. Mixing social commentary and crime, Locke tells a compelling story about Jay's uneasy fight for justice; a few critics noted that Locke does for Houston what Dennis Lehane does for working-class Boston. While most reviewers thought that the characters could well handle the numerous subplots and back stories, the New York Times
and Washington Post
disagreed, though the former acknowledged the relevance of exploring Jay's activist college years. But clearly, this debut novel impressed almost all, with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
describing it as "one of the year's best debuts" and the Dallas Morning News
calling Locke "destined for literary stardom."