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Black Water Hardcover – April, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
Amazon's editors chose their list of the one hundred young adult books to read, whether you're fourteen or forty...Learn more

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Merci Rayborn, T. Jefferson Parker's stubborn, principled Orange County detective, is almost alone in believing that deputy Archie Wildcraft didn't kill his beautiful young wife and then turn his service weapon on himself. The evidence against Wildcraft--now hospitalized with a bullet lodged in his head--seems overwhelming. But Merci, who's still unpopular for exposing an old police scandal that caused the death of one cop and the ruination of others (The Blue Hour), is resisting pressure from her boss and a headline-hunting D.A. to arrest Wildcraft and charge him with murder.

Then the deputy, who's lost his memory and maybe his mind as a result of his injury, goes missing from his hospital room, intent on tracking down the real killers and managing to stay a step ahead of Merci. Soon, they both begin to realize that Gwen Wildcraft wasn't killed because she got in the way of an attempted hit on her husband--it was the other way around. Parker, whose skills at characterization are as well honed as his expert pacing and intricate plotting, has penned another standout that will keep readers guessing and gasping until the last dramatic page. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

After 10 California noir cop thrillers, Parker may have finally settled on a series character to anchor at least a portion of his work: Merci Rayborn, a single mom consumed by her job as a homicide detective with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The Blue Hour and Edgar-nominated Red Light both chronicled the professional fall from grace that left Rayborn a black sheep in the department, and she remains a fascinating (if somewhat distressing) character to watch. Without her colleagues' full cooperation, she plows into a thorny double shooting: a beautiful young woman, Gwen Wildcraft, is found dead in her lavish hillside home, while her husband, sheriff deputy Archie Wildcraft, lies in the garden with a bullet in his head. Archie manages to survive, but has little memory of what happened. Growing evidence, however, indicates that he murdered his wife, then failed at trying to kill himself. Despite the media clamoring for answers and political pressure mounting to arrest Archie, Rayborn's instinct tells her this was not a bungled murder/suicide. Instead, the case points her in other directions, toward an upstart biotech company, Russian mobsters and Archie's nearly impenetrable past. Parker takes great strides in unfurling Rayborn's life of quiet desperation and that of her immediate social circle her father, her partner on the force and her young son. Though lacking the kind of explosive finale that marks most of Parker's novels, this latest is a showcase for mood, setting and pace. $150,000 marketing campaign; national author tour.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078686804X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

T. Jefferson Parker is the bestselling author of 20 crime novels, including Edgar Award-winners Silent Joe and California Girl. Parker's next work is a literary novel, Full Measure, to be published in October. He lives with his family in Southern California.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This newest entry from Parker was so engrossing that I read it through in one sitting -- and emerged blinking my eyes at the world as it was rather than as I had experienced it in this complex drama of murder and redemption.
Homicide detective Merci Rayborn returns to Parker's pen to solve the murder and attempted murder of a young Southern California golden girl and her husband, Gwen and Archie Wildcraft. Archie is a deputy in Rayborn's Orange County Sheriff's office.
So -- is it a simple home robbery gone bad? or a husband getting rid of his wife and deliberately shooting himself in the head to throw off suspicion? or organized crime gone amok? or someting else entirely?
If you read Black Water for nothing more than the plot, you will be richly rewarded, but you will miss the book's most powerful effect -- the complexity of character that subtly sucks in the reader until the climax becomes as personally devastating to the reader as it is for some of the characters, and as redemptive as it is for Merci.
The delicate balance between work and family, the world and home, the principle and the person is one that Parker has achieved with grace and power. I've followed his books since his first, Little Laguna, and he just keeps getting better. He is among my top 5 favorite authors.
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By A Customer on April 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
T. Jefferson Parker keeps getting better & better ! This is a wonderful book that has an interesting and exciting plot, excellent police investigative detail, and, most of all, very real & compelling characters. There were sequences that brought a lump to my throat as I read them, & there were sequences when the pages just turned themselves. This book is wonderful ! (Note: it helps to have read "The Blue Hour" & "Red Light")
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Format: Hardcover
(this is a corrected version of a review by me that you have already posted -- i inadvertently switched the sequence of the first two merci rayborn books, in two separate references to that sequence; please sub this for the one now posted. tom parsons)
After first encountering Merci Rayborn (and T. Jefferson Parker) in "Blue Hour," and then following
her growth in "Red Light," it is gratifying to see her become a fully engaging person/character in
"Black Water."
The locale is familiar to Parker readers, the L.A. area's polyglot Orange County, and so is Parker's
mix of business people and hustlers, police procedure and character interaction. But a difference
with this book is the focus not on "whodunit" aspects (those are resolved for the reader relatively
early on) but how the case will be disposed of in Merci's complex world of cops under pressure
from sensation-mad media and ambitious prosecutors, and how Merci will handle the resolution.
The climax comes not with discovering "whodunit" but with the wholly surprising denouement of a
suspect and victim. Well done.
As a fan of what I call "L.A. noir" (Harry Bosch is very high on my list), I had found myself engaged
by Tim Hess in "Blue Hour." But I was willing to give his partner in that book, Merci, a chance in
"Red Light." After finishing it, I was dissatisfied -- she was too self-absorbed and had too little
self-awareness to pull me much further into her life.
If I hadn't already bought "Black Water," I don't believe I would have read it on the strength of the
first two Merci books.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Homocide Sergeant Merci Rayborn has screwed up before--let made the wrong call in the battle between her emotions and her logic--and she swears she isn't going to in this case. The evidence looks compelling. A local sheriff's deputy is found with a gun in his hand, a bullet in his skull, and a dead wife in his house shot with that gun. Add in a recent fight and a spending pattern that a deputy's pay could never support and it's a clear murder-suicide. Except that Merci thinks that something is wrong. But then, can she even trust her judgement?
Author T. Jefferson Parker does a great job on the details of police procedure, making ordinary detection compelling. Where he really stands out, however, is in his development of character and character emotion. Merci Rayborn, in her third novel, is no longer the young innocent of THE BLUE HOUR. She still believes in what she is doing, but she is no longer so sure of where she is going. BLACK WATER delves deeply into her angst and is somehow more powerful but also more exciting because of it. Archie Wildcraft, the wounded Deputy, is also powerfully drawn as he battles with his loss of memory and especially the loss of feelings caused by brain trauma and the bullet that remains inside his skull.
BLACK WATER certainly stands alone and is a wonderful and powerful book. Fans of T. Jefferson Parker will be overjoyed to see Merci back--and rewarded for the wait. If you aren't familiar with this series, it would be worth a look to find the novels in order (the earlier novels, THE BLUE HOUR and RED LIGHT. Another excellent novel by an exciting novelist.
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