Book Title: River Road
Author: Carol Goodman
Reviewed By: Mary
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Fiction
Date Read: 03/10/17
Pub Date: 01/19/17
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?
Have you ever watched a movie and shouted at the screen for the character NOT to (fill in the blank with a multitude of bad decisions) open that door, investigate that strange noise, talk to the police without a lawyer, etc.? I can’t be the only one. You know you do it too. That is exactly what I found myself doing throughout RIVER ROAD. The main character suffers from a few afflictions, guilt and depression, which leads to drinking to numb the pain and the guilt, which leads to self-doubt, then denial about her self-doubt, which ultimately leads to a series of AWFUL DECISIONS.
I struggled through RIVER ROAD not because it was poorly written or suffered a slowly paced plot line, on the contrary. I enjoyed the style with which the author delivered the story through revelations and recall of memories. I loved the way she interjected humor through unspoken thoughts. I found myself holding my breath and jumping out of my seat when suspenseful moments built up and then exploded.
I struggled, because the main character, Nan Lewis, an intelligent, talented, empathetic college professor, continuously found herself tangled in complicated, incriminating and dangerous situations entirely due to her inability to heed good advice and make sound decisions. I struggled through the book, because I spent so much time questioning Nan, knowing full well she couldn’t respond, but I continued questioning her none-the-less…What ARE you thinking?! Did you NOT just hear him say stay put, keep your mouth shut?! Why are you so INTENT on doing things YOUR way?! It’s obviously NOT working! And my newly discovered grievance, my frustration with this character has compelled me to end my sentences with dual punctuation, UGH!
Aside from my overwhelming desire to shake Nan and scream at her to get it together, RIVER ROAD was full of suspense and never ending plot twists. I pride myself on my super sleuth abilities and always try to figure out who the culprit is in a suspense novel. I have to admit, I figured out the villain early on in this novel, though I questioned a few times whether I had overlooked someone as a suspect as there were many red herrings to choose from. Though I was confident in my villain choice, the why and the how took me much longer to figure out, so my interest never wavered.
In fact, I found one of the most compelling aspects of RIVER ROAD was that even when the plot line was slightly predictable, it was still gratifying because small details were revealed during those times that I didn’t even realize I had been craving. I did love the way my mind veered off into deep consideration of possible outcomes based on some of the issues that the book brought to light. RIVER ROAD made me remember the age-old saying: “Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.” Reputations can be destroyed by mere rumors, but some believe that every rumor starts from a kernel of truth. One thing Nan Lewis and I do agree upon is this: Words are powerful.
I give RIVER ROAD 3.5 stars and given my tumultuous relationship with the protagonist, I strayed from my wine rack and found that this book pairs well with a soothing Hot Toddy…heavy on the whiskey.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was my pleasure to provide an honest, unbiased review.