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DOWN RIVER by John Hart

DOWN RIVER

By John Hart

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-35931-7
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

A black sheep’s homecoming triggers violence, murder and much sensual heat.

Adam Chase returns to his North Carolina home, prompted by a cryptic phone call from old friend Danny Faith, after five years of self-imposed exile in New York. Adam stood trial back then for the murder of local football hero Gray Wilson and, though he was acquitted, his beautiful stepmother Janice testified against him, and much of the town thought he was guilty. Adam thinks often about reconciling with his father Jacob, a hardworking farmer nearing retirement. Danny’s out of town, but his father Zebulon shows his ill will toward Adam by helping beat him up. Adam’s old girlfriend, Robin, now a cop and nursing a grudge about his abrupt departure, takes him in temporarily. More trouble follows. Grace Shepherd, the teenage daughter of Adam’s oldest friend Dolf, is attacked near the river shortly after Adam (on whom she had a childhood crush) talks to her. Adam’s half-brother Jamie has a gambling addiction and an alcohol problem, and his half-sister Miriam suffers from suicidal depression. Things hit rock bottom when Adam discovers Danny’s partially decomposed body, and Dolf is arrested for his murder. Adam decides he has to solve the crime. A sizable supporting cast of offbeat characters thicken the atmosphere and mystery.

Steamy Southern Gothic has much in common with Hart’s successful debut (The King of Lies, 2006), but its juicy melodrama often slides into pretentiousness.