RIVER RISING by Athol Dickson


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A riveting mystery of redemption and regret, salvation and loss, set in the bayou of 1920s Louisiana.

=Orphaned as a young child and raised in New Orleans, Reverend Hale Poser arrives in Pilotville–an isolated stilt town in the wilds of the Louisiana swamplands–on a mission to gather information about his origins. Although the locals are suspicious of this strange newcomer, he soon gets a job working as a janitor at the Pilotville Negro Infirmary and begins attending the African Assembly of God church. After he aids a pregnant woman with a difficult delivery and commits a few other seemingly mystical acts, rumors start surfacing that he is no ordinary man, but a miracle worker. At first glance, the Pilotville of 1927 seems like a “sanctuary from racism” where blacks and whites live together in peace. However, after a black newborn is kidnapped, the facade collapses. The event hits the humble and helpful Hale especially hard, and he ardently joins the search, during which he uncovers a series of unsolved baby-nappings marring the town’s history. These new discoveries lead him to the biggest cover-up of all, putting his life, and the lives of hundreds of others, in danger. Through it all, Hale continually struggles with his beliefs. The foundation of the narrative is Hale’s faith and trust in God–he is searching for the grace of God in a time and place in which such grace is difficult to come by. Dickson deftly explores a variety of complex issues, such as racial equality and religious faith–all with a tasteful touch of magical realism.

A vivid setting and well-drawn characters coalesce in this subtle yet captivating mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7642-0162-X
Program: Kirkus Indie
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