Thank you NetGalley and Touchstone for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Synopsis: 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 the way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of the 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 in 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 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?
Although I found River Road a little slow at the beginning, it didn’t take me long to become thoroughly engrossed in the story and its characters.
Nan is someone I think many readers will emphasize with. Struggling with guilt and self-loathing since her young daughter was killed, she’s a functioning alcoholic. Because of her emotional issues, she’s the perfect person for the true villain to frame. The big questions are who is this mysterious figure and what are their motivations? While I had figured out fairly early on who the murderer was, it didn’t really spoil my enjoyment of the story particularly because there are just enough red herrings thrown in to leave a small cast of doubt as to whether I was right. Adding to the compelling nature of the story is the way in which Carol Goodman creates her characters. They’re all flawed, yet entirely relatable. They’re written so realistically that you feel as though they could be friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors.
The story itself is suspenseful and filled with many twists and turns. There are even some clever ties to Greek mythology. There’s a light romance that develops between Nan and the police officer who is in charge of the investigation, but it takes a back seat to the rest of the story. The ending wraps not only the mystery up perfectly, but also the potential road ahead for Nan. While it may not be easy, she has the love and support of family, friends, and colleagues.
While River Road isn’t filled with non-stop excitement, it’s likable characters and compelling plot make it a fast-paced read nonetheless. It’s a moody and atmospheric mystery which should appeal to readers of this genre.