Summary and book reviews of Down River by John Hart

Down River

by John Hart

Down River
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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Book Summary

After being narrowly acquitted of a murder charge, Adam Chase 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. Now he’s back and nobody knows why, not his family or the cops, not the enemies he left behind.

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.

Chapter 1

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.

Hope.

And anger.

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

t's rare that one would want to read a mystery again, but once the motives are revealed, it sheds new light on all the characters' previous behaviors. In spite of some repetitive self-reflection on Adam's part, Down River is a book that warrants reading at least once and perhaps once again for the skillful plot and descriptive language.   (Reviewed by Vy Armour).

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Media Reviews

New York Times - Janet Maslin

By the end of Down River, the evil secrets abound. Virtually everyone in the book has something to hide. And Mr. Hart's vigorous plotting sustains its fever pitch, though this would have been a better book with even one calm, reasonable figure in its midst. Or one who sounded less dated. Grace is the so-called kid in the book, and yet even she speaks like a 1940s B-movie denizen. I've loved you my whole life," she tells Adam. "All I needed was the courage to tell you. Well, I'm not scared anymore. I'm not scared of anything." That’s stale even by Rowan County standards.

Entertainment Weekly - Missy Schwartz

Hart paints a vivid picture of the kind of farm country where men communicate in punches and everyone has a dirty little secret. If only his style were a few degrees less ham-fisted. B.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel - Oline H. Cogdill

In Down River, Hart surpasses his debut. While he revisits themes in The King of Lies, Hart breaks from the legal thriller in Down River. The only lawyer who makes an appearance is the family's long-time retainer.

Kirkus Reviews

A sizable supporting cast of offbeat characters thicken the atmosphere and mystery....but its juicy melodrama often slides into pretentiousness.

Library Journal

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.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hart surpasses his bestselling debut, The King of Lies (2006), with his richly atmospheric second novel, which offers a tighter plot, more adroit pacing and less angst.

Booklist - David Pitt

Starred Review. Hart dexterously juggles a large cast of characters and several intricate plotlines, and when he starts to tie together the threads of the various stories—well, that's when the real magic begins. A truly splendid novel with a deep emotional core.

Reader Reviews

Elizabeth

Suspensful
Mystery, Suspense, Murder.....loved this book....lots of surprises at the end. :) Adam Chase returns to North Carolina after five years and his acquittal of murder. Little does he know that his troubles haven't disappeared and the mysteries of ...   Read More

Lynn

Great read!!
I loved this book. I couldn't wait to read it after enjoying John Hart's first book, "The King of Lies" so much. I read lots of mysteries, and I rarely am still stumped before the story is revealed. Both of these books kept me in suspense and ...   Read More

Grace

Down River - Audio CD
Scott Sowers' superb narration makes John Hart's skillful plot, loaded with complex characters, come alive in this not-to-be-missed novel.

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Beyond the Book

John Hart was born in Durham, North Carolina, the son of a surgeon and French teacher. His family later moved to Rowan County, the setting for his first novel, King of Lies, and his second novel, Down River. His favorite memory of childhood is a five-hundred acre farm that has since fallen to the sweeping tide of development. Hence his current passion to protect North Carolina's open spaces.

Hart earned graduate degrees in law and accounting, but his desire to write well and be published led ...

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