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Black Water
By T. Jefferson Parker

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Black Water

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Black Water
By T. Jefferson Parker
Center Point Press, 2002
ISBN: 1-58547-255-7
Genre: Mystery - Police Procedural

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 21, 2003

Black Water is a police procedural that focuses around the murder of Gwen Wildcraft, and the attempted murder of her husband, Archie. When police arrived at the Wildcraft's home, they found Gwen, shot to death in the bathroom, and her husband laying in the hallway. He had been shot in the head, but he was still alive. The lead homicide investigator in this case, Sergeant Merci Rayborn, works for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The investigation of this seemingly senseless attack has a special importance for the Sheriff's department because Archie is a deputy in the same department as those investigating the case.

At first everyone assumes that Archie and his wife were attacked, an assumption backed by witnesses who describe seeing a Cadillac leaving the scene just before the police arrived. However, members of the investigation team soon come to believe that what they are investigating is really a murder / suicide that, at least in part, failed. Rayborn, however, disagrees with this assessment and sets out discover the truth of the matter.

Rayborn's investigation is complicated by a reluctance, on the part of her co-workers, to cooperate with her. This is due to her role in exposing a police scandal that had dire consequences for the department. In addition, although Archie did not die from wounds, they have caused some memory loss. Consequently, he is not much help in clearing himself.

T. Jefferson Parker has written many fine mysteries, including several that feature Rayborn. Of those I've read, Black Water is his best yet. It does have one flaw however, and that is in writing this story Parker has assumed that the reader has read his previous novels featuring Rayborn. While I'd recommend that you read the previous Rayborn novels first, you can read this book out of sequence if you don't mind not knowing all the 'insider' info that Parker assumes you already know. This information is not vital to the story line. It simply adds more depth to the characters.

Black Water is a finally wrought police procedural. It is also a powerful drama featuring a strong, relentless woman detective in the lead role, and it has an unexpected ending that perfectly fits in with the story line. Black Water is a very satisfying read, and it is an excellent all around mystery!

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