THE CURRENT by Tim Johnston
Kirkus Star


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A young woman turns Nancy Drew after losing her friend and her father to accident and illness in Johnston’s (The Descent, 2015, etc.) haunting novel.

Though their relationship as roommates is fraught with tension and misunderstanding, Caroline and Audrey continue to be drawn together throughout their time at college. So when Audrey asks to borrow $150 for a bus ticket so she can visit her terminally ill father, Caroline spontaneously offers to drive her all the way home instead: “ ‘What the fuck,’ Caroline says. ‘Road trip.' ” But a violent encounter at a gas station, followed by a car accident, leaves Audrey injured—and Caroline dead. Trying to come to terms with the tragedy, Audrey realizes that their accident had a lot in common with the death of another girl years ago; she begins to investigate on her own, and she finds that the people involved—the girl’s suffering father; a young man who fell under suspicion; his lonely mother—are caught in the loose threads of the past and have been unable to move on. As she draws nearer to discovering the truth, Audrey realizes her own life may be in danger, yet she’s driven inextricably on. If it sounds like a mystery, it is, but not in the traditional whodunit mode. This novel is careful layer upon careful layer, as deceptively thick yet brutally delicate as winter ice itself. Johnston’s descriptions of people, places, grief, and loneliness are subtle and evocative; the minor plot about an aging dog becomes a rending portrait of the ravages of love. Indeed, for all its harsh observations about human nature, this novel has at its heart a strong belief that love, for all the pain it brings, is the one thing that truly saves us.

An apt title that functions as a beautiful metaphor for all the secrets and emotions roiling beneath the surface of every human life.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-61620-677-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2018


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