by Karen Katchur
Thomas & Mercer
Pages : 290
Publication Date : November 1, 2018
Synopsis From Publisher :
A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.
The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca's quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface - memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who's watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he's more predator than protector.
A small town is one of my favorite settings for a story of crime fiction. Readers can almost always look forward to recognizable and endearing characters. This was my expectation when I started River Bodies. While some of my expectations were met, many were not. I was introduced to an interesting main character, but the plot lacked intrigue and mystery.
Twenty years ago, the body of a young man was found along the Delaware River. All internal organs were removed from the body. Fast forward to the present and again the body of a young man has been found gutted and left along the shores of the Delaware River. Many in the town of Portland PA have their suspicions of who may be responsible for the deaths, but no one is willing to speak out.
30-year-old Veterinarian Becca Kingsley has returned to Portland, her father and former Portland Police Chief is terminally ill. Becca has come home with hopes of reconciliation with her past and her father. Unknowingly Becca’s presence has shaken the dust from many long-held secrets.
The circumstances of Becca’s departure from Portland are complicated, she was basically forced to leave home and did not come back. Becca now resides in New Jersey fifteen minutes away from Portland. I found it very interesting that Becca chose to move only fifteen minutes away once she left college and veterinary school. Becca’s relationship with her father is extremely fractured and her mother lives in California. She has no reason to stay close to her hometown. While reading River Bodies I could not help but wonder why Becca chose to live so close to Portland. To me it seemed that Becca knew she had unfinished business in Portland, as much as she wanted to get away, she did not want to go too far away. Why does Becca move fifteen minutes away but never visits? I was able to figure out the central mystery fairly quickly, but the question of why Becca chose to leave/stay is the true mystery.
I love reading different versions of the amateur detective, especially innocent unassuming amateur detectives. Ones who stumble into a mystery ; they find themselves in the middle of crime, and are the only person who can solve the case. Or they must solve the crime before someone gets hurt. Of all the amateur sleuths stories I have read, the casting of a veterinarian as the layman detective is the most original I have come across. Becca’s profession gives her an unique perspective. Becca is kind, compassionate, and in some ways naive. However Becca does have knowledge of how law enforcement operates because of her father’s former job as chief of police. Although Becca has some sense of how the criminal justice system works she is not jaded or cynical. Her job as a vet makes her sympathetic but her upbringing gives Becca the ability to approach issues with realism. Usually in crime fiction, the main character is either overly emotional or too pragmatic. Reading a character who has a healthy balance of emotion and pragmatism was very unique and refreshing.
Pretty early on I was able to recognize where the story was headed and identify the villain. The secrets held by the characters in River Bodies is the true mystery and is what will keep readers turning the pages. Readers looking for a lighter read which lacks gory details but is full of sentiment and complicated relationships should add River Bodies to their list of must reads.
** Thanks to Thomas and Mercer for my free copy of River Bodies**
Murder and Moore Rating :
3.5 out of 5 Stars