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Black Water Hardcover – April, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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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.
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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 (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Passantino on April 24, 2002
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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Det.Sgt. Merci Rayborn and her partner, Paul Zamora are back again in an intense murder investigation involving an Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Archie Wildcraft , who is the prime suspect in what appears to be a murder-suicide.

Archie is hospitalized,in a coma,after being found outside his home with a fragmented bullet in his head. His service weapon, a9mm semi-auto pistol is found in his hand showing evidence of having been fired three times. His wife Gwen, is found dead inside the bathroom of the home.She has been shot twice with Archies service weapon.

The Sheriff is reticent to arrest one of his own but assistant district attorney Dawe s is ambitious and eager to convict based on the current evidence alone. Merci is uncertain and wants to wait for Archie to regain consciousness and provide her with more information to help her clear him and find the true killer. Archie has his own plans and though not completely healed he leaves the hospital and begins his own investigation.

Parker develops Merci' s character through empathy with what Archie must be going through with the loss of his wife. She understands the intensity of his feelings and the loss of his love which she believe to be much like her feelings when she lost her love Tim Hess.(THE BLUE HOUR). Again when Paul 's wife Janine died of cancer (THE RED LIGHT)'

Her love for her child,Tim Jr. has broadened her outlook on life and has caused her to 're-examine her career goals,although she remains an aggressive, no-holds barred homicide investigator.

Archie manages to track down both the mysterious size 16 shoe wearer who left a print at his home as well as his blonde haired passenger. He has also discovered the motive for the fatal attack at Archie' s home that night.
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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.
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