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Friday, March 11, 2016

My review of River Road by Carol Goodman

About the book:

From the award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages comes a chilling new psychological thriller about a professor accused of killing her favorite student in a hit-and-run accident.

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?

My review:

This was a quick read and an adventurous story. What originally intrigued me about this novel was the setting took place in New York on a SUNY campus and I'm a SUNY alumni myself. I also love psychological thrillers. It didn't hurt that I love to write fiction and the main character was a writing professor at the university. Only the heroine came with baggage. She had a drinking problem and unresolved grief from the loss of her child and marriage. The story ended up being quite a ride. 

It read more like a mystery, but with some action like you'd find in a suspense novel. There were some red herrings along the way, but in the end I suspected one person was behind most of it and I ended up guessing correctly. The author gave you just a little bit of information here and there to make you suspect this character was somehow involved. 

Like with the game spin the bottle, the open end pointed at one person, but then they were cleared and the plot spun a bit more and someone else ended up being accused of the hit and run, and so on. The plot kept thickening and getting all twisty like River Road where the accident occurred. I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the heroine for the majority of the story, so she was a sympathetic character as well. 

The minor romantic theme was nice and brought me some comfort, because otherwise she lived in a pretty lonely world and one that I wouldn't wish on anyone. There were no overt spiritual themes in this book and there was some mild cursing and sexual tension, but nothing graphic or over-the-top. I would recommend this story to mystery lovers and people who like getting lost in a story for a few days. This novel delivers and I enjoyed it quite a bit even though my favorite genre is historical fiction. 

River Road was published by Touchstone Books and released in January 2016.

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