Book – River Road

Steve Taylor-Bryant reads the new psychological thriller from Carol Goodman, River Road, released by our friends at Titan Books…

Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?

It took me a good while to get into the rhythm of River Road, 207 pages in fact, as I found the narrative strange at first. I prefer books written in the first person but, as Nan goes from the event at the start and flashes back to the events of the night and the earlier loss of her daughter, the thoughts seem sporadic and many of the sentences seem unfinished, which makes the emotional connection seem slight and not as strong as I would have expected. In fact at the start I found Nan quite annoying and full of self-pity rather than the victim of tragedy. This might just be my expectations not being met though, and people grieve in different ways, so I continued reading and eventually I found a nice thriller. I found characters that I liked, Dottie for one, characters I despised, Ross to start with, and then after that 207th page the twists started to fall into place and the book became quite clever.

The reasoning behind the reveal and the last shocking twist are played out well and whilst some of the events that unfolded in River Road were perhaps obvious, this final part of the story was highly original and the psychology of it fascinating.

I didn’t ‘feel’ the emotions that maybe I should have, I have lost a friend in similar circumstances to how Leia Dawson passes in the book so I know some of what the town are feeling, but I did really enjoy the final third of River Road.

Synopsis/Image - Goodreads.

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