First, please let me apologise for the brief hiatus over the weekend. The thing is that we here in teh UK get really excited about May and have to have lots of days off work to look at lambs and watch grass grow and that kind of thing. So I’ve been off to visit some friends and since it was actually sunny (unheard of for a bank holiday) we actually did outside things like going to a street party and having a BBQ. So in other words I have been without laptop for the weekend and therefore today is the new day 29.
29. An author you wish was more well-known.
See this is what I’ve been dreading. The point where I have to admit to you all that I don’t really read that many unknown authors. A lot of what I’m reading at the moment featured on the BBC Big Read list so I can hardly claim they’re unheard of people.
But recently I read the debut novel by Attica Locke (published in 2009) and since she’s only published two books, and since I’d never heard of her before I’m going to talk about that book here and why I think she’s probably someone to look out for.
The novel in question is Black Water Rising and is a half political thriller, half murder mystery tale set in Texas in 1981. It features as its protagonist Jay Porter, a black lawyer who finds his life on the line when he saves a young woman from drowning one night.
I didn’t realise there was going to be a political element to the story when I picked it up – in fact I nearly put it back down because I’m not a huge fan of crime fiction and I’d just spotted a couple of other books I wanted. But the cover had caught my eye and something about the story appealed to me so I bought it (along with the other two I’d seen, this was Oxfam after all) and now I’m really glad that I did.
The story has two strands. The first is set in the present in which Jay attempts to unravel the mystery of the girl he found in the Bayou, the dead man she left behind her and the thug who’s been tailing him ever since. While the other tells the story of Jay’s first encounter with the law and how his involvement with the civil rights movement years before nearly destroyed him.
I loved the way these two stories wove together and allowing us to get a complete picture of a very 3-dimensional character. Having said that, the back-story could at times get a little bit convoluted and I sometimes forgot who was who in what could be a confusion of acronyms.
But in the present day story there were a number of threads each of which got its fair share of air time and although it was hard to see why some of them were included at first, they’d all had their part to play by the end. It’s this weaving of numerous threads that I feel can often go awry in crime novels but I didn’t feel that happen here. I also found myself really liking Jay and hoping he could come out the end of the book in one piece which is another rarity in crime writing where often characters are quite flat and don’t manage to catch my sympathies.
And the ending when it came delivered. There was a proper revelation and dramatic finale which brought everything to its rightful conclusion. Or nearly everything, there were certain things that were left to the reader’s imagination which can make for an unsatisfactory end but in this instance it worked.
So there you have it, I think that Attica Locke could be an exciting new voice in the world of crime fiction (or my world at least, she may be more well-known than I realise to aficionados) and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for her second offering The Cutting Season.