Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Down River

When Adam Chase left Salisbury, North Carolina, for what he thought would be forever, after being acquitted on murder charges and barely escaping the county with his freedom, he accepted that he would never see the place again. And for five years he managed to push the state and everyone he left behind there from his mind. But a phone call from his old friend Danny Faith asking for his help was enough to finally get him back to Salisbury despite his misgivings about facing the people who were still convinced that Adam had cheated the justice system.

Adam Chase doubted that his family had recovered from his murder arrest and the trial that eventually set him free. After all, the key witness was his stepmother who called the police and identified Adam as the man covered in blood that she spotted outside her window on the night of the murder. As far as he knew, almost everyone in the county still considered him to be a murderer, including his own father who chose to believe his wife’s testimony over the word of his son. Adam was right about the townspeople, but things were much more complicated than he expected.

Danny Faith, Adam’s lone reason for returning to Rowan County, was nowhere to be found and no one admitted to knowing where he might have gone. Robin, the girlfriend he abandoned five years earlier, now a respected police officer and still filled with anger about the way that he treated her was not exactly thrilled to see him again. His father was under pressure to sell off much of the family farm in a deal that would make many in the county wealthy but he refused to even consider it, a situation that promised to turn ugly soon. Things are tense all around and, when bodies start to turn up, Adam Chase finds everyone looking his way again, including the sheriff.

Down River is a book about choices, both those made and those avoided, and the results of those decisions on the ones forced to choose and on those who love them. It is a book about the Chase family, one of the most dysfunctional ones imaginable, a family short on forgiveness and filled with the kind of anger that might outlive them all. If the family is to survive, someone has to bend but no one wants to be the one to give in first. John Hart has created a southern gothic world in which sudden violence and anger are commonplace, the perfect setting for a family that seems more than willing to destroy itself out of sheer stubbornness. There are few shiny white knights in this story where everyone seems to have a secret to hide and a good reason for wanting to keep the truth hidden forever. But after the first domino falls, it becomes only a question of who will be left standing when it is all over.

This is John Hart’s second novel, a nice follow-up to his 2006 Edgar nominated debut novel, The King of Lies.

Rated at: 4.0


  1. I'm so glad you liked this book. I haven't read it, yet, but it's in my pile. I really liked King of Lies when I read it last year. It probably helps that I grew up in and still live in Salisbury, North Carolina. It's fun reading about a place called home. Oh, and for the record, we're not all crazy. :) I'll be writing on Hart in the next month or so because he'll be speaking at our Friends of the Library event on April 3. Thanks for the nice review.

  2. I liked King of Lies better. This one dragged for me and I found myself flip reading to the end.

  3. Wow, Lisa...a Salisbury resident...I'd love to hear your take on the way that the town and the county are presented in Hart's books. It is all very atmospheric but I have to wonder how realistic the setting that he portrays me out?

  4. Elizabeth, that's a strange concept for me...I can't skip ahead and read the ending, etc. I either finish the book, reading every single word, or quit on it completely by around page 50. There's nothing in between for me.