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Down River Hardcover – October 2, 2007
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Everything that shaped him happened near that river….
Now its banks are filled with lies and greed, shame, and murder….
John Hart’s debut, The King of Lies, was compelling and lyrical, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times declaring, “There hasn’t been a thriller as showily literate since Scott Turow came along.” Now, in Down River, Hart makes a scorching return to Rowan County, where he drives his characters to the edge, explores the dark side of human nature, and questions the fundamental power of forgiveness.
Adam hase has a violent streak, and not without reason. As a boy, he saw things that no child should see, suffered wounds that cut to the core and scarred thin. The trauma left him passionate and misunderstood---a fighter. After being narrowly acquitted of a murder charge, Adam is hounded out of the only home he’s ever known, exiled for a sin he did not commit. For five long years he disappears, fades into the faceless gray of New York City. Now he’s back and nobody knows why, not his family or the cops, not the enemies he left behind.
But Adam has his reasons.
Within hours of his return, he is beaten and accosted, confronted by his family and the women he still holds dear. No one knows what to make of Adam’s return, but when bodies start turning up, the small town rises against him and Adam again finds himself embroiled in the fight of his life, not just to prove his own innocence, but to reclaim the only life he’s ever wanted.
Bestselling author John Hart holds nothing back as he strips his characters bare. Secrets explode, emotions tear, and more than one person crosses the brink into deadly behavior as he examines the lengths to which people will go for money, family, and revenge.
A powerful, heart-pounding thriller, Down Riverwill haunt your thoughts long after the last page is turned.
Praise for John Hart and The King of Lies
“Treat yourself to something new and truly out of the ordinary.”
---Rocky Mountain News
“A top-notch debut. Hart’s prose is like Raymond Chandler’s, angular and hard.”
--Entertainment Weekly (grade A)
“A gripping performance.”
“A marriage of carefully crafted prose alongside have-to-keep-reading suspense.”
---The Denver Post
“A masterful piece of writing.”
---The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
“A gripping mystery/thriller and a fully fleshed, thoughtful work of literature.”
“The King of Lies moves and reads like a book on fire.”
“John Hart’s debut . . . is that most engrossing of rarities, a well-plotted mystery novel that is written in a beautifully poetic style.”
---Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama
“Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding.”
---The New York Times
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
- Publisher : Minotaur Books (October 2, 2007)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312359314
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312359317
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #203,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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"Down River" is Hart's second book, both taking place in Rowan County, NC. I haven't read the first, and it did not seem as if I needed to in order to fully enjoy this book. I appreciate it when serial authors allow you to read in any order from any book. My experience with this one will definitely have me reaching for his first novel, and keeping an eye out for future works.
It will be hard for me to keep the bias out of this review. "Down River" is a story of the prodigal son returning home to the farm where familial relationships are strained. An aging, ailing father, a brother who never left home, and a rebelious sister all play major roles. While reading this book, my father had a massive heart attack and I had to return home to the family farm to help care for him. My brother still lives a mile away, and my gregarious sister completed the circle. So much of this book reminded me of my childhood that my pleasure is probably somewhat derived from pure nostalgia.
There is more to love here than just my tickled loins, however. Hart excels at populating his work with dozens of suspects, all with ample motive and opportunity, without beating you over the head with what he is doing. The pace of the work is extremely swift, but your brain will tumble along after as you compile a line-up, each entrant guiltier than the last. Every five pages I KNEW who the killer was, and turned to my wife, who had just finished the book, looking for a glimmer in her eyes as I presented my latest theory.
Every single last one of them was wrong.
Another draw in "Down River" is the protagonist, a rough-and-tumble farm boy with big-city street smarts. Not too strapping, but never one to avoid a bit of fistacuffs, he reminds me of myself when I was trying to survive the rigors of living in a rural setting where being smarter than everyone else was a mixed blessing. Told from his perspective, Adam Chase is returning to a town where everyone thinks he got away with murder five years earlier. His father refuses to sell land to a prospective Nuclear power plant, costing investors dearly, and his boyhood friend has gone missing. There is danger at every turn, and Chase's situation keeps going from bad to worse as he attempts to solve murders faster than the body count can outpace him.
If you enjoy a rough murder mystery, give "Down River" a try. Everyone in the Carolinas will get a kick out of the local color, but there is obviously something here for all readers as "Down River" has been nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award for best mystery book.
The story begins as Adam Chase drives back into his home town in Rowan County, North Carolina. We learn that Adam has not been there for five years, that he has not even been in contact with anyone there - not even his main squeeze Robin Alexander, who has worked her way up to detective on the small police force. We come to find out that the reason Adam left was a murder trial in which he was the defendant, acquitted but none the less considered guilty by most of the town - including his step mother who testified against him. This latter fact caused a rift between Adam and his father Jacob, a rift Adam did not see as being able to be mended.
The reason Adam returned to Rowan county was a cryptic message from Danny Faith, one of Adam's oldest and dearest friends. Adam almost did not return, but in the end felt he owed it to Danny. He had not been in town 24 hours when he had a run in with Danny's father Zebulon, who not only felt Adam was guilty of murder, but also felt the wealth of the Chase family was the reason Adam did not go to jail. After an ambulance ride to the emergency room, Adam was picked up by Robin, who let him know she was over him and the offer of her apartment did not come with any fringe benefits. Adam, however, was not able to locate Danny Faith and was told he went to Florida to hide from an assault and battery charge from his ex-girlfriend.
But it seemed as if Adam's presence dug up some all to fresh memories, despite the five year interlude. Not long after his inglorious return to his childhood home, a severe beating there had him under police suspicion once again. Later, a body is found, and the local sheriff was out to implicate Adam. Things surely did not look good for him. Add into the mix that half the town wanted Jacob to sell 1400 acres to the power company for a new plant to be built, and the town was boiling over with accusations and hatred. But the worse things got for Adam, the deeper he dug. And just when you thought you might have figured out the mystery, another layer was peeled away and you were back to square one.
I really enjoyed this book. It is not every author that could pull this story off the way John Hart did. I really wanted things to turn out right for Adam (not saying they didn't) and became frustrated with him at times, especially for his inability to control his temper. It is not every novel that can keep me invested in the experiences of the characters, but "Down River" did this and more. I recommend this to any mystery buff who is looking for something a little bit different.
Top reviews from other countries
The last child one 9f ghetto best books I have ever read and Down River is looking as good again up to now. Great discovery of a great writer.