Hyperion, Apr 2002, 23.95, 338 pp.
Orange County Deputy Sheriff Archie Wildcraft lies in a hospital near death from the bullet lodged in his brain while his wife Gwen is already dead. The law enforcement officials detest that one of their brothers killed his wife and tried to commit suicide. Only Detective Merci Rayborn thinks differently though circumstantial evidence targets Archie as the culprit.
Though he does not remember what happened, Archie believes that he never murdered his spouse though the media has convicted him. Archie takes things into his own hands and goes after an unknown killer. Merci chases after Archie. However, as he plays cat and mouse with her, both undergo a paradigm switch from believing Gwen unfortunately took a bullet aimed for Archie to thinking Archie took a bullet aimed for Gwen. Now they separately seek a culprit who wanted Gwen dead and has no qualms about adding two cops to the victim list.
The key to this strong police procedural is the clever way T. Jefferson Parker enables the reader to observe Merci up front and personal without slowing down a fast-paced yet unique cat and mouse story line. Merci's personal life (single mom) and peer ostracization in her professional life due to the aftermath of her previous case (see THE BLUE HOUR) brilliantly intertwine in her hunt for Archie who, in a subplot, seeks the killer. Merci in her third appearance and to a lesser degree Archie make BLACK WATER a must read for fans of the author and those who enjoy a convincing police investigation.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner