First line: "They partied in Pleasantville that night, from Laurentide to Demaree Lane."
Attica Locke returns to her lawyer protagonist, Jay Porter, from Black Water Rising in her third novel, Pleasantville. Set fifteen years after the close of Black Water Rising this new thriller takes Jay Porter into dangerous political territory when a young campaign volunteer vanishes.
Perviously, two other young woman were kidnapped--about a year apart--only to later be found dead. Their murderer kept them alive for several days before dumping their bodies in the same nearby field. There are some differences to the cases, but there are enough similarities that everyone is in high alert, hoping to find the teen before her assailant can leave her in that same field.
When Neal, the nephew and campaign manager of one of the mayoral candidates, is arrested for the disappearance, Neal's grandfather Sam--a prominent citizen originally from Pleasantville--calls on Jay to represent him. Despite his lack of experience in criminal law Jay finds himself with little other choice and takes up the defense. It isn't long before Jay is wading in a case that reaches wider and deeper than the alleged kidnapping of a teen girl.
Pleasantville is a complex, multi-layered thriller with universal themes of power and class. It also pokes at political issues that are just as relevant today as in the novel's 1990s setting. On another level, Locke puts the family unit under a microscope to examine the myriad intricacies that develop over time and through struggles.
Locke's characters are richly developed and readers should have no trouble connecting with them: their motivations, emotions and conflicts. The supporting cast is as engaging as the lead roles. Locke is especially strong in her depiction of a single father trying to make his way with two young children: connecting with them, keeping them safe and raising them to be good people.
The plot overall has a somber tone, but Locke also throws in the occasional line that flickers of playfulness in her writing, "Lucifer himself probably showed up to Jesus's house at least once or twice, claiming to have the twenty dollars he owed our lord and savior."
Readers don't need to be familiar with Black Water Rising to thoroughly enjoy Pleasantville. A gripping story that offers up a lot of food for thought as well as a captivating plot that keeps the book's momentum swift, Pleasantville doesn't disappoint.
Pleasantville will be available in hardcover on April 21st from Harper (9780062259400) and as an unabridged audio (9780062374042), narrated by J.D. Jackson, from Harper Audio.
My review today is part of the TLC book tour for Pleasantville, which started yesterday and continues throughout the month. Check the schedule to see what other bloggers are saying about Attica Locke's newest book.
Disclosure: I do some contractual work for one of the owners of TLC Blog Tours. My work with them does not obligate me to a specific kind of review. The reviews are still my own opinions and reflect only my thoughts on the novels. If you care to read more, you can find more information on my Disclosure page.