The Washington Post
Down Riverby John Hart
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."
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 Chase 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 River will haunt your thoughts long after the last page is turned.
The Washington Post
Scott Sowers delivers a solid performance reading Hart's powerful second novel. Five years ago, Adam Chase was put on trial for the murder of a local teenager. Although he was acquitted of the crime, the majority of Rowan County, N.C., was never convinced of his innocence. The resulting hostility and humiliation compelled him to leave his hometown and escape to the anonymous streets of New York. A phone call from one of his oldest friends brings Adam back home, where he finds himself embroiled in a thick web of old family secrets and lies that lead back to that murder and to a death that has haunted him and his family for more than two decades. Hart writes with an intimate sense of melancholy and loss that Sowers resonates perfectly. Using a low-key, Southern accent to good advantage, Sowers draws the listener into the story from the very beginning with his simple, earnest delivery, and holds them tight. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 6). (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Hart's sophomore effort surpasses his debut, the multi-award-nominated King of Lies. A small North Carolina town is torn apart when a power company wants to buy up all the farmland on the river; some residents cling to their bucolic way of life, while others see only dollar signs. Adam Chase's family has owned the largest parcel in the area for centuries, and his father has no desire to sell. But tempers flare, and soon a young woman is severely beaten, a body is found on the Chase farm, and Adam is the chief suspect. Newly arrived after five years away, Adam is the town pariah. His stepmother had accused him of murdering a family friend, and while the court acquitted him, his family and friends did not. While time has softened some, others seem ready to unleash their stored-up anger. This work is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler's novels, hard-boiled and rich with evocative metaphors. Complex relationships blur the lines between friend and foe, heightening the suspense in this intricate, haunting story of a family in crisis, and the writing is simply superb. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Mystery Prepub Alert, LJ6/1/07.]
“This book should settle once and for all the question of whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“As in his Edgar-nominated debut, The King of Lies, Hart takes his time, snaring the reader with evocative storytelling and lush prose.” Boston Globe
“Down River falls squarely in the league of the best of Southern novels.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“A sensitive rumination on the emotional force of family dynamics.” Washington Post
“There are few books published that can legitimately be called a ‘must-read,' but this is one of them.” Chicago Sun-Times
“An engrossing, bittersweet reading experience that expertly evokes William Faulkner, John Grisham, and John Berendt.” Mystery Scene
“If you value Harper Lee, James Lee Burke, Truman Capote, and Michael Malone… it's time to add John Hart to your bookshelves.” Otto Penzler, New York Sun
“Down River is a beautifully constructed story of personal redemption, family secrets, and murder--a small-town epic…. A truly splendid novel with a deep emotional core.” Booklist (starred review)
“Hart's sophomore effort surpasses his debut… this work is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler's novels…. The writing is simply superb.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Sometimes, early success can be a curse for a writer....That's definitely not the case with North Carolina's John Hart...With Down River…he's only gotten better.” Winston-Salem Journal
“Hart's work invokes the spirit of the best of southern literature. Down River puts readers in the mind of topics explored by Thomas Wolfe, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, with a contemporary vision and edge that is memorable and haunting. Hart is a deep and strong talent whose future offerings will be greatly anticipated and welcomed.” Book Reporter
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
The river is my earliest memory. The front porch of my father's house looks down on it from a low knoll, and I have pictures, faded yellow, of my first days on that porch. I slept in my mother's arms as she rocked there, played in the dust while my father fished, and I know the feel of that river even now: the slow churn of red clay, the back eddies under cut banks, the secrets it whispered to the hard, pink granite of Rowan County. Everything that shaped me happened near that river. I lost my mother in sight of it, fell in love on its banks. I could smell it on the day my father drove me out. It was part of my soul, and I thought I'd lost it forever.
But things can change, that's what I told myself. Mistakes can be undone, wrongs righted. That's what brought me home.
I'd been awake for thirty-six hours and driving for ten. Restless weeks, sleepless nights, and the decision stole into me like a thief. I never planned to go back to North Carolina--I'd buried it--but I blinked and found my hands on the wheel, Manhattan a sinking island to the north. I wore a week-old beard and three-day denim, felt stretched by an edginess thatbordered on pain, but no one here would fail to recognize me. That's what home was all about, for good or bad.
My foot came off the gas as I hit the river. The sun still hung below the trees, but I felt the rise of it, the hard, hot push of it. I stopped the car on the far side of the bridge, stepped out onto crushed gravel, and looked down at the Yadkin River. It started in the mountains and stretched through both Carolinas. Eight miles from where I stood, it touched the northern edge of Red Water Farm, land that had been in my family since 1789. Another mile and it slid past my father's house.
We'd not spoken in five years, my father and me.
But that was not my fault.
I carried a beer down the bank and stood at the verge of the river. Trash and flat dirt stretched away beneath the crumbling bridge. Willows leaned out and I saw milk jugs tied to low limbs and floating on the current. They'd have hooks near the mud, and one of them rode low in the water. I watched it for motion and cracked the beer. The jug sank lower and turned against the current. It moved upstream and put a V in the water behind it. The limb twitched and the jug stopped, white plastic stained red by the river.
I closed my eyes and thought of the people I'd been forced to leave. After so many years, I'd expect their faces to pale, their voices to thin out, but that's not how it was. Memory rose up, stark and fresh, and I could not deny it.
When I climbed up from beneath the bridge, I found a young boy on a dusty bike. He had one foot on the ground and a halting smile. He was maybe ten, in blown-out jeans and old canvas high-tops. A bucket hung from his shoulder by a knotted rope. Next to him, my big German car looked like a spaceship from another world.
"Morning," I said.
"Yes, sir." He nodded, but did not get off of the bike.
"Jug fishing?" I asked him, gesturing down the to the willows.
"Got two yesterday," he said.
"Three jugs down there."
He shook his head. "One of them is my daddy's. It wouldn't count."
"There's something pretty heavy on the middle one." His face lit up, and I knew that it was his jug, not his old man's. "Need any help?" I asked.
I'd pulled some catfish out of the river when I was a boy, and based on the unmoving pull on that middle jug, I thought he might have a monster on his hands, a black-skinned, bottom-sucking beast that could easily go twenty pounds.
"That bucket won't be big enough," I told him.
"I'll clean him here." His fingers moved with pride to a thin knife on his belt. It had a stained wooden handle with pale, brushed-metal rivets. The scabbard was black leather that showed white cracks where he'd failed to oil it properly. He touched the hilt once and I sensed his eagerness.
"All right, then. Good luck."
I took a wide path around him, and he stayed on his bike until I unlocked my car and climbed in. He looked from me to the river and the grin spread as he shrugged off the bucket and swung one narrow leg over the back of the bike. As I pulled onto the road I looked for him in the mirror: a dusty boy in a soft yellow world.
I could almost remember how that felt.
I covered a mile before the sun made its full assault. It was too much for my scorched eyes and I pulled on dark glasses. New York had taught me about hard stone, narrowness, and gray shadow. This was so open. So lush. A word fingered the back of my mind.
So damn verdant.
Somehow, I'd forgotten, and that was wrong in more ways than I could count.
I made successive turns, and the roads narrowed. My foot pressed down and I hit the northern edge of my father's farm doing seventy; I couldn't help it. The land was scarred with emotion. Love and loss and a quiet, corrosive anguish. The entrance rushed past, an open gate and a long drive through rolling green. The needle touched eighty, and everything bad crashed down so that I could barely see the rest of it. The good stuff. The years before it all fell apart.
The Salisbury city limit came up fifteen minutes later and I slowed to a crawl as I pulled on a baseball cap to help hide my face. My fascination with this place was morbid, I knew, but it had been my home and I'd loved it, so I drove through town to check it out. It was still historic and rich, still small and Southern, and I wondered if it had the taste of me even now, so many years after it had spit me out.
I drove past the renovated train station and the old mansions stuffed with money, turned my face away from men on familiar benches and women in bright clothes. I stopped at a light, watched lawyers carry large cases up broad stairs, then turned left and lingered in front of the courthouse. I could recall the eyes of every person on the jury, feel the grain of wood at the table where I'd sat for three long weeks. If I closed my eyes now, I could feel the crush of bodies on the courthouse steps, the near physical slap of fierce words and bright, flashing teeth.
The words had unleashed a fury.
I took a last look. It was all there, and wrong, and I could not deny the resentment that burned in me. My fingers dug at the wheel, the day tilted, and the anger expanded in my chest until I thought I might choke on it.
I rolled south on Main Street, then west. Five miles out I found the Faithful Motel. In my absence, and unsurprisingly, it had continued its roadside spiral into utter decay. Twenty years ago it did a booming business, but traffic trailed offwhen the church moms and preachers drove a stake through the triple-X drive-in across the street. Now it was a dump, a long strip of weathered doors with hourly rates, weekly tenants, and migrant workers shoved in four to a room.
I knew the guy whose father ran it: Danny Faith, who had been my friend. We'd grown up together, had some laughs. He was a brawler and a drinker, a part-time pair of hands on the farm when things got busy. Three weeks ago he'd called me, the first person to track me down after I'd been hounded out of town. I had no idea how he'd found me, but it couldn't have been that hard. Danny was a stand-up guy, good in a tight corner, but he was no deep thinker. He'd called me for help, and asked me to come home. I'd told him no. Home was lost to me. All of it. Lost.
But the phone call was just the beginning. He could not have known what it would do to me.
The parking lot was pure dirt, the building long and low. I killed the engine and entered through a filthy glass door. My hands found the counter and I studied the only wall ornament, a ten-penny nail with a dozen yellowed-out air fresheners in the shape of a pine tree. I took a breath, smelled nothing like pine, and watched an old Hispanic guy come out of a back room. He had finely groomed hair, a Mr. Rogers sweater, and a large chunk of turquoise on a leather thong around his neck. His eyes slid over me with practiced ease, and I knew what he saw. Late twenties, tall and fit. Unshaven, but with a good haircut and an expensive watch. No wedding ring. Scarred knuckles.
His eyes flicked past me, took in the car. I watched him do the math.
"Yes, sir?" he said, in a respectful tone that was rare in this place. He turned his eyes down, but I saw how straight he kept his back, the stillness in his small, leathery hands.
"I'm looking for Danny Faith. Tell him it's Adam Chase."
"Danny's gone," the old man replied.
"When will he be back?" I hid my disappointment.
"No, sir. He's gone three weeks now. Don't think he's coming back. His father still runs this place, though. I could get him if you want."
I tried to process this. Rowan County made two kinds of people: those who were born to stay and those who absolutely had to leave. Danny was the former.
"Gone where?" I asked.
The man shrugged, a weary, lips-down gesture, palms turned up. "He hit his girlfriend. She fell through that window." We both looked at the glass behind me, and he gave another near Gallic shrug. "It cut her face. She swore out a warrant and he left. No one has seen him around since. You want I should get Mr. Faith?"
"No." I was too tired to drive anymore, and not ready to deal with my father. "Do you have a room?"
"Just a room, then."
He looked me over again. "You are sure? You want a room here?" He showed me his palms a second time.
I pulled out my wallet, put a hundred-dollar bill on the counter.
"Sí," I told him. "A room here."
"For how long?"
His eyes were not on me or on the hundred, but on my wallet, where a thick stack of large bills was about to split the seams. I folded it closed and put it back in my pocket.
"I'll be out by tonight."
He took the hundred, gave me seventy-seven dollars in change, and told me room thirteen was open if I didn't mind the number. I told him that the number was no problem. He handed me the key and I left. He watched me move the car down the row to the end.
I went inside, slipped the chain.
The room smelled of mildew and the last guy's shower, but it was dark and still, and after days without sleep, it felt aboutright. I pulled back the bedcover, kicked off my shoes, and dropped onto the limp sheets. I thought briefly of hope and anger and wondered which one was strongest in me. Nothing felt certain, so I made a choice. Hope, I decided. I would wake to a sense of hope.
I closed my eyes and the room tilted. I seemed to rise up, float, then everything fell away and I was out, like I was never coming back.
I woke with a strangled noise in my throat and the image of blood on a wall, a dark crescent that stretched for the floor. I heard pounding, didn't know where I was, and stared wide-eyed around the dim room. Thin carpet rippled near the legs of a battered chair. Weak light made short forays under the curtain's edge. The pounding ceased.
Someone was at the door.
"Who is it?" My throat felt raw.
It was Danny's father, a quick-tempered man who knew more than most about a lot of things: the inside of the county jail, narrowmindedness, the best way to beat his half-grown son.
"Just a second," I called out.
"I wanted to talk to you."
I went to the sink and threw some water on my face, pushed the nightmare down. In the mirror, I looked drawn-out, older than my twenty-eight years. I toweled off as I moved to the door, felt the blood flow in me, and pulled it open. The sun hung low. Late afternoon. The old man's face looked hot and brittle.
"Hello, Mr. Faith. It's been a long time."
He was basically unchanged: a little more whittled down, but just as unpleasant. Wasted eyes moved over my face, and his lips twisted under dull whiskers. The smile made my skin crawl.
"You look the same," he said. "I figured time would have taken some of the pretty-boy off your face."
I swallowed my distaste. "I was looking for Danny."
His next words came slowly, in a hard drawl. "When Manny said it was Adam Chase, I didn't believe him. I said no way would Adam Chase be staying here. Not with that big old mansion full of family just sitting out there at the river. Not with all that Chase money. But things change, I reckon, and here you are." He lowered his chin and foul breath puffed out. "I didn't think you had the nerve to come back."
I kept my sudden anger in check. "About Danny," I said.
He waved the comment away as if it annoyed him. "He's sitting on a beach in Florida somewhere. The little shit. Danny's fine." He stopped speaking, closing down the subject of his son with an offhand finality. For a long moment he just stared at me. "Jesus Christ." He shook his head. "Adam Chase. In my place."
I rolled my shoulders. "One place is as good as another."
The old man laughed cruelly. "This motel is a rattrap. It's sucking the life out of me."
"If you say so."
"Are you here to talk to your father?" he asked, a sudden glint in his eyes.
"I plan to see him."
"That's not what I meant. Are you here to talk to him? I mean to say, five years ago you were the crown prince of Rowan County." A despicable grin. "Then you had your little trouble and you're just up and gone. Near as I can tell, you've never been back. There's got to be a reason after all this time, and talking sense into that prideful, stubborn son of a bitch is the best one I can think of."
"If you have something to say, Mr. Faith, why don't you just say it?"
He stepped closer, brought the smell of old sweat with him. His eyes were hard gray over a drinker's nose, and hisvoice thinned. "Don't be a smart-ass with me, Adam. I remember back when you was just as much a shit-brain kid as my boy, Danny, and the two of you together didn't have the sense to dig a hole in the dirt with a shovel. I've seen you drunk and I've seen you bleeding on a barroom floor." He looked from my feet to my face. "You've got a fancy car and a big-city smell on you, but you don't look no better than anyone else. Not to me. And you can tell your old man I said that, too. Tell him that he's running out of friends."
"I don't think I like your tone."
"I tried to be polite, but you'll never change, you Chases. Think you're so much better than everyone else around here, just because you have all that land and because you've been in this county since creation. None of it means you're better than me. Or better than my boy."
"I never said I was."
The old man nodded, and his voice quivered with frustration and anger. "You tell your daddy that he needs to stop being so goddamn selfish and think about the rest of the people in this county. I'm not the only one that says so. A lot of people around here are fed up. You tell him that from me."
"That's enough," I said, stepping closer.
He didn't like it, and his hands seized up. "Don't you talk down to me, boy."
Something hot flared in his eyes, and I felt a deep anger stir as memories surged back. I relived the old man's pettiness and disregard, his quick and ready hands when his son made some innocent mistake. "I'll tell you what," I said. "Why don't you go fuck yourself?" I stepped even closer, and as tall as the old man was, I still rose above him. His eyes darted left and right when he saw the anger in me. His son and I had cut a wide swath through this county, and in spite of what he'd said, it had rarely been me bleeding on some barroom floor. "My father's business is no business of yours. It never has been and it never willbe. If you have something to say, I suggest that you say it to him."
He backed away, and I followed him out into the molten air. He kept his hands up, eyes on me, and his voice was sharp and harsh. "Things change, boy. They grow small and they die. Even in Rowan County. Even for the goddamn Chases!"
And then he was gone, walking fast past the flaking doors of his roadside empire. He looked back twice, and in his hatchet face I saw the cunning and the fear. He gave me the finger, and I asked myself, not for the first time, if coming home had been a mistake.
I watched him disappear into his office, then went inside to wash off the stink.
It took ten minutes to shower, shave, and put on clean clothes. Hot air molded itself around me as I stepped outside. The sun pressed down on the trees across the road, soft and low as it flattened itself against the world. A mist of pollen hung in the yellow light and cicadas called from the roadside. I pulled the door shut behind me, and when I turned I noticed two things almost at once. Zebulon Faith leaned, cross-armed, against the office wall. He had two guys with him, big old boys with heavy shoulders and thick smiles. That was the first thing I saw. The second was my car. Big letters, gouged into the dusty hood.
Two feet long if it was an inch.
So much for hope.
The old man's face split and he pushed words through the smile. "Couple of punk kids," he said. "They took off that way." He pointed across the empty street, to the old drive-in parking lot that was now a sea of weed-choked Tarmac. "Damned unfortunate," he finished.
One of the guys elbowed the other. I knew what they saw: a rich man's car with New York plates, a city boy in shined shoes.
They had no idea.
I moved to the trunk, put my bag inside, pulled out the tire iron. It was two feet of solid metal with a lug wrench on one end. I started across the parking lot, the heavy rod low against my leg.
"You shouldn't have done it," I said.
"Fuck yourself, Chase."
They came off the porch, moving heavily, Zeb Faith in the middle. They fanned out, and their feet rasped on hard-baked earth. The man on Faith's right was the taller of the two, and looked scared, so I focused on the man to the left, a mistake. The blow came from the right, and the guy was fast. It was like getting hit with a bat. The other followed almost as quickly. He saw me droop and stepped in with an uppercut that would have broken my jaw. But I swung the iron. It came up fast and hard, caught the man's arm in midswing and broke it as cleanly as anything I'd ever seen. I heard bones go. He went down, screaming.
The other man hit me again, caught me on the side of the head, and I swung at him, too. Metal connected on the meaty part of his shoulder. Zebulon Faith stepped in for a shot, but I beat him to it, delivered a short punch to the point of his chin and he dropped. Then the lights went out. I found myself on my knees, vision clouded, getting the shit kicked out of me.
Faith was down. So was the man with the broken arm. But the other guy was having a time. I saw the boot arcing in again and I swung with all I had. The tire iron connected with his shin and he flopped onto the dirt. I didn't know if it was broken, didn't really care. He was out of it.
I tried to stand up, but my legs were loose and weak. I put my hands on the ground, and felt Zebulon Faith standing over me. Breath sawed in his throat, but his voice was strong enough. "Fucking Chases," he said, and went to work with his feet. They swung in, swung out. Swung in again, and came back bloody. I was down for real, couldn't find the tireiron, and the old man was grunting like he was at the end of an all-night screw. I curled up, tucked my face down, and sucked in a lungful of road grit.
That's when I heard the sirens.
Copyright © 2007 by John Hart.
Meet the Author
John Hart is the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Child and The King of Lies. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, he has also won the Barry Award and England's Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. He was born and raised in North Carolina. For a time he practiced criminal defense law, but left to focus on his writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I LOVE this book! I bought it on a whim at a dollar store and within the next week I had finished. When I got into the last 100 pages I couldn't put it down. I stayed up until 3 in the morning to finish it. This book is good for a rainy day, snow day, sunny day, any day really. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
I absolutely love John Hart. His writing style, the mystery, the characters. Everything about all three of his books I love. This was the first one I stumbled upon, in the BARGAIN section! I don't know why because had I known how good it was I certainly would have paid full price! The book caputures the reader from the beginning and the twists and turns soon start to take you on a wonderful journey, sitting on the edge of your seat the whole time. Hoping to figure out the end, and at the same time rooting for the main character. A must read. Adam Chase leaves his hometown after a terrible accusation is made, murder. Even though he is aquitted of the crime almost everyone looks at him with judging eyes, thinking he did it. When Adam returns from NY reluctant to come back to the town that no longer welcomes him, but to help a friend, people start turning up dead. And so the story takes on a exciting plot of twists and turns. Adam must solve this mystery, and he doesn't care what it takes.
I selected this book while on vacation in SC and just thought it was another local writer with a little talent. WRONG! (Yes, I know there is a difference between NC and SC. But the Carolina's none the less.) Down River is one of the best books I have read in a while. I would compare the quality to the old James Patterson. EXCELLENT! Hart really keeps you guessing until the very end. This book shows that life isn't always easy, no matter where you come from and how much money you have.
This book was amazing! This is definatly the best book I have read in a long time. I loved everything about it and couldn't put it down!
I selected this book, because it got the 2008 Edgar, an award bestowed to the best mystery novel written in the US in a given year. The story unfolds about a string of crimes related to a rich family of rural North Carolina, there are many possible perpetrators and many motives behind. The plot is complex and twisted, creatively crafted, superb, but the author was not skillful enough to create a writing style that matches the quality of the plot so as to release the magic that captivates readers to really enjoy and finish the book in no time. Outstanding plot. Boring writing style
Mystery lovers and lovers of words -- this book is for you! John Hart does it all: an intriguing plot; skillfully drawn characters; artful use of words. I also read Last Child and plan to read more.
I picked up this book, sounded interesting, and was never able to put it dow, good story and several twists and turns
The first John Hart book I've read and really enjoyed it. Great characters,very descriptive, lots of twists and turns and hard to put down.
I have found another favorite author. I have read alll three of Hart's books and this was my favorite. It was well written and the characters and their behavior were so real. Hart keeps you guessing through the whole thing. Would definitely recommend.
I was a little hesitant to read this book since I did not like King Of Lies at all. This book was so much better. I enjoyed reading this book. It's not the best book I have every read but it was a very good story with good characters.
Sucks you in from page 1!
This book was simply amazing. This was my second book of John Harts that I have read. I appreciate the phenomenal author that he is. He writes great books, books that'll keep you wanting to read more and more. I love books with a twist!!
Mr Hart again tells the story in the way we always want it, compelling you to the next exciting page. Well done and clmes with a high recommendation from me. I hope you enjoy this book as much as i did.
It took me three starts to get into it but as it progressed I couldn't put it down. More twists and turns than any book I've read in a long time. Truly a page turner. Try it, you'll love it.
This was the first book I read by John Hart and I loved it! I literally could not put it down and read it in 2 days. I am going back to get The King of Lies and have already read the first 3 chapters of The Last Child online and will go purchase the book tonight.
Of the three, I actually started Down River first but set it aside after 50 pages. Than I read The Last Child (3rd book) and it was excellent,dude! Than I started King Of Lies and didn't finish... the first 2 weren't that great. Both weren't as accomplished as the third book which is understandable. Both were written in the first person and wallowing in family sentimentality, just didn't come off as mystery-thrillers. The Last Child was a real turn-around. Look out Harlan Coben... John Hart's literary talent really flowers in this one too. The Lost Child is as good a mystey-thriller or better than Turow, Grisham or Cornwell. So, sort of luke-warm on King Of Lies and Down River but terrific on The Lost Child.
We chose this book for our Book Club - and we all really enjoyed the book. The author has a wonderful way of introducing the characters and the plot was great. I recommend this book to anyone.
This book is one of the best I have read by a recent author. Down River is beautifully written as far as imagery and character development. The plot is developed with a surprise ending that works, which is refreshing in the mystery genre.
This is my first experience with author John Hart. The location ( mid South) was not the usual big city setting which made the novel even mnore interesting as well as educational. Characters were good since they all had such normal and human flaws. I'll definitley read more of John Hart.
John Hart's ability to write descriptive dialog is amazing, and Scott Sowers ability to read it outstanding. I loved the flow of words. This is a keeper.
Another North Carolinian, Thomas Wolfe, famously said that you can't go home again. Reluctantly returning to his home town 5 years after leaving in disgrace, Adam Chase tests that proposition, and finds it - nearly - impossible. In the tradition of southern writer, author John Hart places a family under the microscope to reveal darkness and dangerous secrets, viciousness and violence, and a hidden yet pervasive web of vengeance, jealousy, and greed.
Adam is a brooding sort of anti-hero, his natural impetuosity fueled by the rage that has simmered since his mother's suicide. Other characters run the gamut from fragile southern belle to big daddy to high stakes gambler to small town cop. Those who inhabit this novel are much more than types, however, with fully developed personalities and individual faults and virtues. Loyalty is the theme underlying this tale, and nearly everyone must come to terms with issues of truth and trust along the way. Some lives are literally destroyed, while others will be capable of redemption. Down River is a skillfully written mystery filled with tension and suspense, providing a highly satisfying reading experience.
I really enjoyed the author's style in this mystery/thriller because he presents you with a mystery where the main character (Adam Chase) is in the dark most of the time like the reader and when things are finally figured out, the author did not cop out with the usually tricks that many other writers seem to pull. Adam gets a call to return to his hometown from a friend. When he reluctantly goes there he is treated rather poorly because the townfolk feel he was unjustly acquited of a murder five years prior. As the plot moves along you are never sure if Adam may have done what he is accused of and each of the characters in the book are shrouded in mystery. Then there is Adam's old girlfriend Robin who is also a cop and the one person that believed in his innocence (but you are never sure if this was true). Well written and difficult to put down.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes to 'get lost in a good book'. The characters had you. Storyline very good. Lots of twists and turns. Everytime you thought you had it all figured out, something new was thrown at you and you were back to guessing.
The author's detailing of every place and everyone kept me totally engrossed in the stroy. I'm off to read his other books.
I enjoyed every minute of reading this book... it had substance and character, and just made you joyful to love the people you love, realizing that you won't always have them...