Race, politics and petty grievances muddy the quest for justice when a young election volunteer is kidnapped and murdered.
On election night 1996, in the primarily African-American area of Pleasantville, in the north of Houston, a young woman named Alicia Nowell is chased by a mystery figure. That same night, the home of attorney Jay Porter (Black Water Rising, 2009) is broken into. The police are blasé. After they leave, a young intruder comes out of hiding. Jay brandishes his gun but allows the kid to get away. In the absence of a clear election winner, a runoff pits Jay's candidate, former police chief Axel Hathorne, against Sandy Wolcott, a "political upstart."Jay attends a community meeting about the missing girl, who's the third one in recent memory, though the police haven't aggressively investigated the earlier two. He's particularly worried because he's raising his teenage daughter, Ellie, as a single parent. Everyone is surprised when Axel's nephew Neal is arrested. Jay agrees to represent him, and his investigator, Lonnie, learns that the police are monitoring hotheaded Alonzo Hollis as a person of interest. As Jay begins to track Hollis, the wheels of justice turn, and Alicia's body is found. Former Houston mayor Cynthia Maddox, who may have higher ambitions, arrives with Secret Service protection to urge Jay to drop the case. Instead of complying, he prepares for the trial, which unfolds with methodical precision, the final picture taking shape piece by piece. The killer's identity is a genuine surprise.
A thriller wrapped in an involving story of community and family dynamics. Locke serves up a panorama of nuanced characters and writes with intelligence and depth.