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    BLACK WATER by T. Jefferson Parker


    HYPERION, 2002

    Homocide Sergeant Merci Rayborn has screwed up before--let made the wrong call in the battle between her emotions and her logic--and she swears she isn't going to in this case. The evidence looks compelling. A local sheriff's deputy is found with a gun in his hand, a bullet in his skull, and a dead wife in his house shot with that gun. Add in a recent fight and a spending pattern that a deputy's pay could never support and it's a clear murder-suicide. Except that Merci thinks that something is wrong. But then, can she even trust her judgement?

    Author T. Jefferson Parker (see other BooksForABuck reviews of novels by this author) does a great job on the details of police procedure, making ordinary detection compelling. Where he really stands out, however, is in his development of character and character emotion. Merci Rayborn, in her third novel, is no longer the young innocent of THE BLUE HOUR. She still believes in what she is doing, but she is no longer so sure of where she is going. BLACK WATER delves deeply into her angst and is somehow more powerful but also more exciting because of it. Archie Wildcraft, the wounded Deputy, is also powerfully drawn as he battles with his loss of memory and especially the loss of feelings caused by brain trauma and the bullet that remains inside his skull.

    BLACK WATER certainly stands alone and is a wonderful and powerful book. Fans of T. Jefferson Parker will be overjoyed to see Merci back--and rewarded for the wait. If you aren't familiar with this series, it would be worth a look to find the novels in order (the earlier novels, THE BLUE HOUR and RED LIGHT. Another excellent novel by an exciting novelist.

    Four Stars

    Purchase BLACK WATER from (hardback).