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Pleasantville audiobook

  • By: Attica Locke
  • Narrator: JD Jackson
  • Category: Fiction, Legal
  • Length: 13 hours 13 minutes
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Publish date: April 21, 2015
  • Language: English
  • (1215 ratings)
(1215 ratings)
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Pleasantville Audiobook Summary


From Attica Locke, a writer and producer of FOX’s Empire, this sophisticated thriller sees lawyer Jay Porter–hero of her bestseller Black Water Rising–return to fight one last case, only to become embroiled in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win.

Fifteen years after his career-defining case against Cole Oil, Jay Porter is broke and tired. That victory might have won the environmental lawyer fame, but thanks to a string of appeals, he hasn’t seen a dime. His latest case–representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire–is dragging on, shaking his confidence and raising doubts about him within this upwardly mobile black community on Houston’s north side. Though Jay still believes in doing what’s right, he is done fighting other people’s battles. Once he has his piece of the settlement, the single father is going to devote himself to what matters most–his children.

His plans are abruptly derailed when a female campaign volunteer vanishes on the night of Houston’s mayoral election, throwing an already contentious campaign into chaos. The accused is none other than the nephew and campaign manager of one of the leading candidates–a scion of a prominent Houston family headed by the formidable Sam Hathorne. Despite all the signs suggesting that his client is guilty–and his own misgivings–Jay can’t refuse when a man as wealthy and connected as Sam asks him to head up the defense. Not if he wants that new life with his kids. But he has to win.

Plunging into a shadowy world of ambitious enemies and treacherous allies armed with money, lies, and secrets, Jay reluctantly takes on his first murder trial–a case that will put him and his client, and an entire political process, on trial.

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Pleasantville Audiobook Narrator

JD Jackson is the narrator of Pleasantville audiobook that was written by Attica Locke

Attica Locke is the author of Black Water Rising, which was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the UK’s Orange Prize, and also the national bestseller The Cutting Season, which won an Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. She is a producer and writer on the Fox drama Empire. She is on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, where she lives.

About the Author(s) of Pleasantville

Attica Locke is the author of Pleasantville

Pleasantville Full Details

NarratorJD Jackson
Length13 hours 13 minutes
AuthorAttica Locke
Release dateApril 21, 2015


The publisher of the Pleasantville is HarperAudio. includes the following subjects: The BISAC Subject Code is Fiction, Legal

Additional info

The publisher of the Pleasantville is HarperAudio. The imprint is HarperAudio. It is supplied by HarperAudio. The ISBN-13 is 9780062374042.

Global Availability

This book is only available in the United States.

Goodreads Reviews


November 06, 2014

Jay Porter has a full plate, and so his legal career has been set on cruise control. Money is the least of his worries; he is successful, and has won a very large case, though it hasn’t paid yet. No, his issues have to do with family, and with grieving. And with grieving. And with grieving. His wife Bernie died young and fast due to an illness that she knew she had, but had chosen not to share. She pushed him to follow through on his enormous case against the oil company that had sickened, even killed people in their own close-knit, middle class African-American suburb outside Houston, Texas. It was important to everyone that the families affected experienced justice. But now he wishes he had spent more time by his wife’s bedside and less in the courtroom. His self-hatred for the time spent away from his wife and two children during that final crisis has left him determined not to set foot in another court room. Not ever.And so this sequel to Black Water Rising, the red-hot hit by this author, starts out ominously, as a vulnerable teen waiting at a bus stop wonders whether she should run from the car that is watching her, even though she is so far from home that she doesn’t know how to get back, or wait for that bus. Next thing we know, she’s been murdered.But Jay Porter is still too caught up in his own personal situation to pay much attention at first. Bernie’s sister Evelyn helped him get Bernie’s clothes packed up and moved out, but he can’t look at her car. Can’t look. And the holidays coming around the corner, all the gut-punching emotion with which they are fraught, that stinks too.At this point, I should let you know that you can’t read this yet. It won’t come out till April, but I got my ARC from edelweiss books a week ago, and I’ve been reading it obsessively, so now is the time to review it. I will post this again when the book comes out, but for now, you can pre-order it, or put it on your Christmas list. After the holidays have come, gone, been cleaned up and winter survived, wouldn’t it be nice to come home and find this heart-pounding thriller waiting in the mailbox to make your weekend better? And what a story it is! And so, back to Jay Porter. Porter is holding Cole Oil to the award the courts granted to the many citizens he represented. His fee, 20 million dollars, will be enough for him to retire on. He can send his secretary into the retirement she longs for, and he can put his feet up and be a father to his kids. But oh, how he wishes Bernie could be there.Meanwhile, his friends and neighbors are growing agitated about Alicia Nowell’s disappearance. She is the third girl from the community to go missing in the past few years. The first two were kept alive for a few days; their bodies were found on day 6, and the coroner ruled they had been dead for only 24 hours or less. So they figure that girl is out there, alive, somewhere. Volunteer crews are searching fields after the cops have been there, squaring off grids in professional fashion while others knock on doors, try to get information that the local cop shop hasn’t found. And in the midst of a mayoral race, hay is being made by the opponent of the traditional Black candidate. Because the neighborhood has been slowly, insidiously (to some) changing since the death of Jim Crow. Now young Black kids from strong families don’t have to live in Pleasantville to find a good house. They can move wherever they want. That’s good, right? But Latino families looking for good schools and good housing find reception that is sometimes tense as they ease into town, and the old guard realizes they may no longer be a unified force politically.Disbelief and horror take hold when the grandson of the community’s most venerated elder is arrested for the murder of Alicia Nowell. Assuming that an error has been made and without a second thought, Jay, who by coincidence happens to be at the police station while Neal Hathorne is being questioned, strides into the interrogation room and announces that he is Neal’s attorney. He has no idea what a firestorm he has unleashed upon himself, and upon his family.I am retired, and have the luxury of several hours of designated reading time every evening. It’s pretty sweet. But this book caught me by the hair and made me stay with it, modifying my schedule so I could see just what the hell is happening here. My e-reader followed me down to the kitchen. It followed me into the laundry room. I was cranky when the phone rang and interrupted my time with Jay. Because after all, we had to get him out of this mess, and what the hell is going on with his daughter Ellie? Good thing he is being a careful father so that we won’t have to deal with that old, hackneyed now-they’re-after-his-own-kid plot line. Jay is smart enough to realize his daughter fits the profile of the kidnapped and murdered girls, and he is looking out for his girl. We respect him for it, and I nodded with approval at the e-reader as I fed the dog, went out to get the mail. I broke or spilled things four times because I wasn’t looking at what I was doing; I was reading this book, because the book couldn’t wait.If Locke’s fingernail-biter of a tale reminds me of the style of any other writer, it is of James Lee Burke, now an octogenarian who is unlikely to write much more. And although only Locke knows whether it is intended as a nod to that bayou living legend, she names the bereaved parents Robicheaux. I rather liked the touch, if that’s what it was.So whether you order this book, request it as a gift, or buy it when it comes out, consider it a must read. This book is already creating a buzz six months prior to publication, and it is going to be a monster. Don’t let yourself be left out!


March 25, 2015

I’d been wishing for a sequel to "Black Water Rising" for the past 6 years (has it been that long?) and when "The Cutting Season" came out in 2012, I figured Locke was done with socially conscious attorney, Jay Porter. So when I finally got my hands on a copy of "Pleasantville," I was giddy with excitement and couldn't wait to find out what Jay was up to. The story takes place in 1996, fifteen years later, and yes, the Houston attorney is back, but he’s not doing as well as I’d hoped. He’s struggling to raise his two children alone after the death of his wife, and he has yet to see any money after winning a big case against Cole Oil. When Neal Hathorne, the nephew of a prominent mayoral candidate, is arrested for the murder of a local girl, Jay begrudgingly agrees to represent him as a favor to the powerful family despite having little criminal defense experience. As a result, he becomes entangled in a web of political corruption and dark family secrets that puts a target on his back, but more importantly, his family's as well. Locke's ability to weave politics and social commentary into a gripping sophisticated thriller illustrates what a masterful and intelligent storyteller she is. It's not a problem to read "Pleasantville" before "Black Water Rising," although purists like me will appreciate starting from the beginning.


November 05, 2015

Lawyer Jay Porter is back after his introduction in Locke’s first book, Black Water Rising, where he tackled a murder case that found him embroiled in environmental politics and changed his life. Pleasantville picks up a few years later and Jay has become somewhat of a go-to lawyer for citizens in their fight against the dumping of chemicals in their neighborhoods.Pleasantville, a predominately African-American neighborhood in Houston, Texas (in real life and in the book), is currently being represented in a lawsuit against a company that caused a chemical fire near their homes. On the eve of a mayoral election, a campaign volunteer goes missing Jay finds himself reluctantly involved in finding out what happened to her.Attica Locke writes super-layered novels, so it’s almost impossible to cover everything in this review. Grief, greed, politics, environmental racism…it’s all here. What I love best about Pleasantville, and her other books, is that I never have a clue about who’s behind the mystery until she reveals it to me. The last pages of the book move at a lightning speed that will have your heart racing and tuning out everything else around you.


April 04, 2015

The most thrilling account of local election politics and hustling for power that I've ever come across. This succeeds as courtroom drama, political thriller, showing how the real human/family suffering is used for point-scoring. As a murder mystery, it is perhaps not entirely successful (gets wrapped up a bit too quickly and unexpectedly at the end), but it's a very intelligent, well-written book.


May 03, 2015

FictionAttica LockePleasantville: A NovelNew York: HarperHardcover, 978-0-06-225940-0432 pages, $26.99April 21, 2015 Pleasantville is a historical neighborhood in Houston, Texas, “a planned community…built specifically for Negro families of means and class” in the wake of World War II, and one of its favorite sons, Axel Hathorne, has just entered a runoff election for mayor of Houston. The same night, someone is watching Alicia Nowell, a teenage girl who had been handing out leaflets door-to-door for the election as she stands on a street corner waiting for her ride, “still wanting to believe a way out was possible, but already knowing, with a creeping certainty, that this this night had turned on her, that her disappearing had already begun.” How’s that for a hook? Pleasantville is Attica Locke’s sequel to the many-award-nominated Black Water Rising is back -- with environmental plaintiff’s attorney Jay Porter, this time dealing with the death of his wife, single fatherhood, inertia, and a break-in at his law office that occurs the same night as the election, the same night the girl goes missing. When Hathorne’s campaign manager is arrested and charged with the murder of Alicia Nowell, Locke’s compelling setup for this complex, character-driven legal and political thriller is complete. Pleasantville has a complicated plot with lots of moving parts. There is a large cast of disparate, intriguing characters, liberally peppered with predators of all stripes. The pacing never lags, goosed along by artfully placed plot twists. The story is a highly entertaining brew of political and personal ambition garnished with journalistic, legal, and corporate corruption. All of which Locke handles beautifully. The cynicism of the political horse-trading is breathtaking and will confirm all of your conspiracy theories. A good number of the cast are politicians and their consultants, including the reincarnation of Lee Atwater, a city council member who can “hear the whir of a video camera from a block over” and a mayoral candidate who began wearing glasses when she entered the race because “talk of her pale green eyes and the height of her stiletto heels starting getting too much play in the press.” Porter’s floundering without his wife is touchingly conveyed. “There are things she knew about her family, not secrets so much as hard-earned intimacies, that she inadvertently took with her, leaving the rest of them to fend for themselves in this new, foreign land, daily meeting at the kitchen table, or passing in the hallway, without their shared interpreter.” There is humor here, as well, spiced with sassy one-liners. At one point Porter concedes that “the breadth of his investigation is an ex-con skulking around Hollis’s [a suspect] place in a rusty El Camino.” Hollis’s place is one of those giant, generic apartment complexes with pretentious names. “This one has the nerve to call itself Beechwood Estates.” Full of family secrets and political secrets, Pleasantville gives new meaning to the truism that the political is personal. For lovers of intrigue and suspense, this is the total package.Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.


September 08, 2015

It was a long wait between episodes, but the wait was well worth it. Jay Porter, the likeable conscious lawyer is back and representing the Black community of Pleasantville, a section of Houston, TX. I am impressed with how well Attica Locke nails down the landscape of Houston, helps move the story when one is familiar with the surroundings and environment. Her prose is fast and easy with Jay being a great character to build a story around. Her pacing in this book was right on, with no superfluous activity and all action fitting in the mystery like a solid puzzle. For readers who like mystery, I would enthusiastically suggest this one.


December 02, 2014

You can count on Attica Locke. PLEASANTVILLE is just as strong a book as BLACK WATER RISING and THE CUTTING SEASON. If you're looking for a strong writer who puts out the kind of books John Grisham wishes he could write, this is where you should be.

Read In Colour

March 23, 2015

I really liked Black Water Rising, the author's first book about attorney Jay Porter, but I like Pleasantville even more!


January 09, 2019

I am excited to finally read something by this author whose books have all won numerous awards including ones honoring Ernest Gaines and Dennis Lehane. Unfortunately I read (bookclub selection) this one which is the second book first. Most likely because of that the first part seemed to take a long time getting things set straight. However by the middle of this story about Jay Porter, a returning lawyer struggling with the recent loss of his wife, working on a slowly plodding environmental case for many of adverse effected residents of Pleasantville a strong black suburb of Houston, Texas, really takes off. Jay’s life and that of his 2 children become endangered when the environmental case runs headlong into ongoing Mayoral politics, the mysterious disappearance of a young campaign worker in the community which resembles that of two earlier unsolved murders, and the trial of the grandson of one of PV ‘s most prestigious founders.I’m going to read more books by Attica Locke (who is also a writer and producer for TV’s Empire series) and recommend this one though I would start,as I wish I had, with book one Back Water Rising. 4 stars - read for On The Southern Literary Trail - Jan selection


August 13, 2020

I read Black Water Rising, Attica Locke's first novel, earlier this year and I was eager to read this one which is a sequel. I decided not to deprive myself of that pleasure any longer.Pleasantville, which takes its name from a Houston suburb built expressly for upwardly mobile Black people, is set fifteen years after the events of the first book. It is 1996 and much has happened in those intervening years. One notable event that has some relationship to the plot of this book was the closing of the venerable Houston Post in April 1994. The money-grubbing, non-journalist owner decided to shut down with no warning to the employees. (If I sound bitter, it is only because I am.) So, by 1996, the Houston Chronicle is the only daily newspaper.Much has happened in attorney Jay Porter's life as well. He has become more widely known and successful after his victory in the Cole Oil case that the previous book recounted. But his personal life is in shambles after his beloved wife died of cancer the year before. He is left to raise a teenage daughter and his younger son on his own and he doubts he is up to the challenge. In response, he has virtually given up his practice in the interim. He presently has one case pending; he is representing the community of Pleasantville in its suit regarding a chemical fire that caused severe damage. But the case seems to be going nowhere and some of his clients are beginning to question his dedication to it.In 1996, Houston is in the midst of a mayoral campaign that pits a Black former police chief against a woman district attorney. (Like her first book which detailed the election of the first woman mayor of Houston, parts of this book are loosely based on the election of its first Black mayor, Lee Brown.) The campaign threatens to get nasty as one side employs the dirty tricks playbook, but then an unexpected event scrambles everything. A young woman disappears from a street corner in Pleasantville. She had apparently been distributing flyers for one of the campaigns. A few days later, her brutalized body is found near the railroad tracks.The murder recalls the earlier disappearance and murder of two girls from Pleasantville. Those murders were never solved. Although the circumstances of the new murder are somewhat different, Jay Porter and his friend, who had been a reporter for the Houston Post and had covered the other murders, suspect that all three are related. But how to prove that, especially when the police seem to be dragging their feet and the Houston Chronicle barely mentions the murder? When the investigative reporter from the Post had left the building on that final day of the newspaper, she had managed to take a box of her notes with her. Among those notes are her interviews and findings regarding the two earlier murders. That provides a starting point for trying to find out what happened this time.Jay feels bound to Pleasantville because so many of the residents are his clients and he knows the family of the girl who was killed. Then the nephew of one of the mayoral candidates (the former police chief) who was deeply involved in the campaign is arrested for the murder and the whole thing begins to smell like a political hit job. The family wants Jay to defend the young man. He feels an obligation to look into the matter and he and his team of a private investigator, the former reporter, and his office assistant get to work to try to find a way of proving their client didn't do this heinous crime.It's fun to watch as the team goes about connecting loose ends and pulling the story together. Early on, I identified a suspect and I waited for the investigators to come to the same conclusion I had. In the end, it turned out I had been right all along! Very satisfying.Attica Locke is an excellent writer who obviously knows Houston very well. Her explication of the political chicanery and the legal scheming and planning that goes on behind the scenes just adds another layer to an already intricate plot. That being said, I found the plot not at all difficult to follow. Locke is swiftly becoming one of my favorite writers of thrillers.

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