Tuesday, June 17, 2008

[Book Review] DOWN RIVER by John Hart


Alice Kendall reviews DOWN RIVER by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

The Chase family is dysfunctional. That is a very general statement that doesn’t begin to cover the depths of betrayal and disloyalty to which families can sink. It is also a family that is capable of sacrifice for the sake of the others. The question for the reader is: who is betraying whom?

When Adam Chase returns to his home town in Rowan County, North Carolina someone scratches "killer" into the paint of his expensive car and his best friend’s father beats him so badly he has to go to the hospital. And then things really start going badly. It doesn’t take long to decide that Adam’s stepbrother is probably the one responsible for Adam standing trial for murder five years earlier and all the violence that is happening now. Or is he? As the story progresses and more characters are introduced, the plot not only thickens, it positively roils.

Down River won the 2008 Edgar award for best mystery novel. It’s easy to understand why. It is a page-turner and a delight to mystery fans. The characters are recognizable without being caricatures. The plot is as fast and twisting as the river that has played a major role in Adam’s development. And the end, when it comes, is as real as human nature with all its disappointments and promise.

Alice Kendall, Parkway Village Branch Library


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