22 June 2020
It’s been just over a decade since we published our first book with Attica Locke, which was Black Water Rising – which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2010. Since then, her writing has continued to floor us with its beautiful lyricism, tightly woven plots and fearless approach to themes of race, politics and policing.
Bluebird, Bluebird won the CWA Steel Dagger and an Edgar Award; Pleasantville won the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction; Black Water Rising was nominated for an Edgar Award and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction; and The Cutting Season was a bestseller and winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.
Attica Locke has worked on the adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series about the Central Park Five, When They See Us. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.
Discover Attica’s books below – and tell us which you’ve read, or plan to read, over on Twitter.
Follow @atticalocke on Twitter
BLACK WATER RISING (2010)
The Women’s Prize for Fiction
An Edgar Award
A NAACP Image Award
Los Angeles Times Book Prize
On a dark night, out on the Houston bayou to celebrate his wife’s birthday, Jay Porter hears a scream. Saving a distressed woman from drowning, he opens a Pandora’s Box.
Not the lawyer he set out to be, Jay long ago made peace with his radical youth, tucked away his darkest sins and resolved to make a fresh start. His impulsive act out on the bayou is heroic, but it puts Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him is practice, his family and even his life. Before he can untangle the mystery that stretches to the highest reaches of corporate power, he must confront the demons of his past.
THE CUTTING SEASON (2013)
Just after dawn, Caren inspects the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house she manages. Back at her office, the gardener calls to tell her she missed something. Something terrible.
At a distance, she didn’t see. A young woman lying face down in a shallow grave, her throat cut clean.
So there will be police, asking questions. The family who own Belle Vie will have to be told. There’s a school group on the way to visit. Where is Donovan, the member of staff no one has seen? And all the time, Caren is thinking that there are only so many keys, only so many ways in to Belle Vie with its six foot high perimeter fence. And as she lives on site with her daughter, she wonders: how much danger are they in?
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS PRIZE 2016
It’s 1996, Bill Clinton has just been re-elected and in Houston a mayoral election is looming. As usual the campaign focuses on Pleasantville — the African-American neighbourhood of the city that has swung almost every race since it was founded to house a growing black middle class in 1949.
Axel Hathorne, former chief of police and the son of Pleasantville’s founding father Sam Hathorne, was the clear favourite, all set to become Houston’s first black mayor. But his lead is slipping thanks to a late entrant into the race — Sandy Wolcott, a defence attorney riding high on the success of a high-profile murder trial.
Just as the competition intensifies, a girl goes missing, apparently while canvassing for Axel. And when her body is found, Axel’s nephew is charged with her murder.
Sam is determined that Jay Porter defends his grandson. And even though Jay finds himself trying his first murder case, a trial that threatens to blow the entire community wide open, and reveal the lengths that those with power are willing to go to hold onto it.
BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD (2017)
Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award 2018
2018 Edgar Award Winner for best novel
When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply conflicted about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him back.
So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders – a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman – have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2020
Watersones Thriller of the Month
A Sunday Times Book of the Year
A Times Crime Club top 40 crime book of the last five years
‘Political crime fiction of the highest order’ Sunday Times
Nine-year-old Levi King knew he should have left for home sooner; instead he found himself all alone, adrift on the vastness of Caddo Lake. A sudden noise – and all goes dark.
Ranger Darren Mathews is trying to emerge from another kind of darkness; his career and reputation lie in the hands of his mother, who’s never exactly had his best interests at heart. Now she holds the key to his freedom, and she’s not above a little blackmail to press her advantage.
An unlikely possibility of rescue arrives in the form of a case down Highway 59, in a small lakeside town. With Texas already suffering a new wave of racial violence in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, a black man is a suspect in the possible murder of a missing white boy: the son of an Aryan Brotherhood captain.
In deep country where the rule of law only goes so far, Darren has to battle centuries-old prejudices as he races to save not only Levi King, but himself.