Pleasantville by Attica Locke

Review published on November 10, 2017.

I was first introduced to the work of this author and her attorney Jay Porter by Locke’s prize-winning debut Black Water Rising, although Pleasantville was longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2016.

From dodgy oil companies and environmental destruction we have moved on to the world of politics in Houston Texas. It’s 1996 and Bill Clinton has just been elected but in Pleasantville there is the prospect of electing the first black mayor, Alex Hathorne.

As in all high profile elections the stakes are high, particularly when a young teenager goes missing and then, like two previous young girls, is found dead in Pleasantville, yards from the very voters who will make or break the election result.

I am a huge fan of John Grisham novels and I did wonder on beginning to read Locke’s work whether it would follow his style. But the work and personal life of Jay Porter and his immersion from young firebrand protesting years into meticulous lawyer defending those communities still dealt a bad turn by money makers make these novels a lot more immersive into the community world of America that we can see has developed even more.

The trial scenes are explosive and the characters highly believable. The issues of race and wealth are today just as divisive in America and Locke uses much of her own experiences to make the novel real. I am sure she will have a huge wealth of material should she move onto the Trump Presidency… A TV drama or even film will surely be a possibility too!

A great personal read and one book clubs would enjoy.

Philipa Coughlan 4/4

Pleasantville by Attica Locke
Serpent’s Tail 9781846689499 pbk Mar 2016

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