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River Ghosts [Kindle Edition]

B.R. Robb
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.95
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Book Description

From the author of The Widow's Son - a Kirkus Starred Review Literary Mystery:

Which is right: the eyewitness testimony of an eight-year-old boy or exculpatory DNA evidence?
Sixteen years after Richard Hill testified in court that he crouched under the kitchen tablecloth and saw Henry Clayton rape his white momma and murder her and his black poppa, a DNA swab earns the prisoner a pardon and his freedom. Returning to Red River Falls, Clayton claims that he has been reborn and offers to help Hill, now a patrol officer, identify who really killed his parents. Hill, who relives the family horrors every day, doesn't believe him. But how can he prove DNA evidence wrong? An ingrained distrust of everyone except Doria, the aunt who raised him, has led Hill to distance himself from his squad-car partner Jack Harter, and his mixed parentage has alienated him from members of both races. When he leans on radio reporter Sydney Brey for help, the search for truth puts Sydney on the railroad tracks as a train heads for her, leaves Auntie Doria bleeding on her bedroom floor and makes Hill the target of bands of good old boys with swastika tattoos. Ultimately, his childhood memories hold true but bring the disturbing possibility that the perfect science can be corrupted while racial enmity festers undercover.
The pseudonymous Robb, an attorney, writes with the chilling clarity of Alice Sebold. Read it and weep. (Kirkus starred review March 2008)


From ForeWord Magazine Reviews (May 2008) - Its frightening insight into the best and worst of men and their institutions, thoughtful intrigue, and superb attack upon preconceptions make River Ghosts a mystery devoid of coincidences or tidy endings, that will grip readers from the stunning opening to its powerful last page.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This thought-provoking mystery from the pseudonymous Robb, whose first novel, The Widow's Son, was published under his real name, Bruce Steinberg, examines a racially motivated hate crime with a terrifying twist. Hidden under a table, eight-year-old Richard Hill witnesses 18-year-old Henry Clayton, who sports a swastika tattoo, rape Richard's white mother, then murder her and his black father at his parents' home in Red River Falls (evidently located near Chicago). Sixteen years after Henry is convicted, new DNA evidence gains him a governor's pardon and release from prison. Now a Red River Falls police patrol officer, Richard suspects the new evidence is bogus. When the murder of an elderly gay man points to an old white power buddy of Henry's as the culprit, Richard and his white squad partner suspect Henry's connected. Proving that connection is another matter and a testimony to friendship and faith under fire. Robb depicts Henry's terror campaign and Richard's hunger for justice with steely eloquence. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Author

Wake up, write, go to work, work, go for run, work some more, come home from work, do some yard work, volunteer to fold the laundry, enjoy the family which happens because I volunteered to fold the laundry. Cat falls asleep on lap, wife at my side, kid doing homework. Laugh at things each other say about our day. For a typical day in a life, I'll take it any day.

Product Details

  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 451 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089F5UEE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,046 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and Intense July 10, 2008
Format:Hardcover
B.R. Robb gives a reader much to think about. From the opening pages to the exciting ending, the reader remains captivated by the cat and mouse game played between the hate-filled antagonist and his counterpart, the emotionally damaged protagonist. These characters come off the page to involve you in their struggle. The battle they wage is an old one, yet one that, unfortunately, remains strong in today's world--racial hatred and intolerance.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants an intelligent story with strong character relationships, and a surprise ending. Enjoy.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story & prose for readers who demand more July 10, 2008
Format:Hardcover
River Ghosts is highly deserving of the starred Kirkus Review and Amazon reader raves, although I must correct a previous post: BOTH the protagnonist's parents die on page 1. This is worth citing because so much of the story and fine prose deals with Richard Hill's feelings of loneliness and isolation in the aftermath of the heinous hate crime, added to the displacement he already felt as a biracial child. River Ghosts is billed as a mystery, but it's more of a well-crafted and well-written work of contemporary fiction that will appeal to readers who demand both for their time and money. The author clearly knows his way around the legal system, and displays the same ease with his characterizations, whether through conveying the intimate thoughts of central figure, or in the quiet details--a gesture here or a turn of speech there-----that speak volumes. I'm can't wait to read more from this author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read July 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover
River Ghosts is an intense, spell-binding mystery that is more about the character of protagonist Richard Hill than about shoot-em-up action. Robb's main characters are complex in their personality makeup and certainly not stereotypes. His short chapters were a plus for me, because for the first two-thirds of this 300 page novel I had to take early breaks to absorb the intensity of the story. But for the last 100 pages I couldn't put the book down, intense or not. The story line begins with Hill, as a boy, witnessing the rape of his mother and the murder of both parents. The man convicted of the crime, largely on Hill's testimony, is a white supremicist, and 16 years later he is pardoned by the governor, based on DNA evidence. Hill struggles first with the pain and the accuracy of his memories. Then he tries to find out why the DNA apparently was wrong. As a man with a racially mixed background living in an overwhelmingly white town, Hill fights prejudice on several levels---his law enforcement colleagues (Hill is a policeman), many of the townspeople, and a white supremicist cell that has existed for decades in the community. You won't predict the ending, which is what a good mystery is all about. River Ghosts is a very good mystery!
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exhilarating character driven thriller May 24, 2008
Format:Hardcover
In Red River Falls, terrified racially mixed eight year old Richard Hill hides under his family's kitchen table as he sees teenage Henry Clayton rape and kill the child's white mother. The preadolescent knows he will be haunted forever with the swastika tattoo that Richard proudly displayed. Henry is convicted of the rape-murder while Richard's black father tries to help his son move past the hate crime.

Sixteen years later newly discovered DNA evidence exonerates Henry. The Illinois governor pardons him and he is released from prison. Now a Red River Falls police officer, Richard believes the so-called new proof is a fake as he witnessed Henry rape and kill his mom. When an elderly gay man is murdered, the circumstantial evidence points towards a white supremacist friend of Henry as the killer. Richard and his squad car partner believe Henry is involved, but have to find concrete evidence to validate their theory in court.

The adversarial relationship between Henry and Richard make for an exhilarating character driven thriller. The same event has turned both men into obsessive individuals although Henry already had a cause before the rape murder of Richard's mom. Readers will appreciate this strong look at two foes; one a homegrown terrorist using race as his cause while the other became a cop in homage to his mom as he needs to insure victims see justice occur starting with himself.

Harriet Klausner
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected July 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Since this was a free book, I really wasn't expecting much but pleasantly surprised when I discovered the author actually knew how to write, create believable characters and weave a story together. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Taut, Thrilling, Touching Literary Mystery July 19, 2008
Format:Hardcover
An exciting and entertaining story for the intelligent reader. River Ghosts features a biracial protagonist, a rarity in the mystery genre. Robb's tightly crafted prose and deft pacing move this book into the select realm of literary mystery writers such as Ed McBain/Evan Hunter. The novel examines important issues including DNA testing, religion and the inaccuracy of eyewitness testimony. After a DNA test clears the man imprisoned for his parent's murders, Richard Hill - now a cop -- must find the truth. The novel is fast-paced and intriguing yet touching. This book is so beautifully written that you will be tempted to read it slowly, savoring every moment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like its main character, River Ghosts has many quiet strengths and its author B.R. Robb has made some interesting choices as a writer and storyteller. He begins with the awful truth of what Officer Richard Hill witnessed as a boy, and we wonder what is left to be revealed, what will entice us to keep turning pages. Yet the pages move the reader: to deeper understandings of the indelibility of early experiences, to empathy with Hill's isolation, to full appreciation of how very carefully he must scrutinize everyone around him, and how tight his grip on himself must be. Even as layers of facts and evidence shift memory and conviction, you know you are on some kind of sure footing with Rich, aptly named because Robb has created him in such deep, rich tones. But he is only one of many strong characters drawn in full color with seemingly minimal strokes. (Everyone is going to want to spend some time in Auntie Doria's kitchen.) And I am not a little in awe of his choice (and his ability) to present characters full of despicable traits as multi-dimensional humans also bearing the burdens of formative life experiences. It is indeed a strength for a book so much about the worth of every human being to extend to racist characters the same decency it asks of them.

The story is told with a simplicity that belies its sophistication. You have to pay attention, interpret dialogue carefully. The more reflective, philosophical or lyrical passages provide a nice ebb to the rush of the plot's momentum, and can be quite beautiful.

If you are after a "ghost story", River Ghosts will only give you glimpses of the wisps and whispers that make their presence felt in our lives. The ghosts you will encounter will be the things we--and our predecessors--did or failed to do that increase the likelihood of evil acts occurring, and those are the truly frightening specters that haunt us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Loved this book
Published 1 month ago by Michelle Warren
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
i like this book kept me interested until the end
Published 4 months ago by Deidra Plunkett
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Was a little slow starting, but then I couldn't put it down. Liked the progression of Richard's learning process about the crime and himself.
Published 4 months ago by Mary Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the twists and turns to the very end
This is a compelling book that describes in vivid detail and depth the difficult life journey of someone who witnessed an atrocity as a child. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Julie R
5.0 out of 5 stars great
this is well written and has a very good plot. I really enjoyed reading this book, it keep my interest during the whole book.
Published 5 months ago by Mary
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a stunner
How do you continue to live and work in your home town when the neighbor YOU saw kill your parents is cleared by DNA? Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. B. Patterson
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
The story gives a good accounting of how a victim can be chained to a traumatic event, regardless of the distance of time.
Published 5 months ago by dl
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, fast-moving, good book.
I enjoyed this book and it kept my interest from the beginning. If I like a book, I find it hard to put down. This is one of those books! A very interesting and enjoyable book.
Published 5 months ago by LauraLAuten
5.0 out of 5 stars Where does the falls go?
This book opens with the testimony of an 8year old boy about the rape of his white mother and murder of both parents (black father) that he witnessed under the table in their... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Cynthia J. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars great
this is a different book for me and I did like the book and would recommend it to others for reading
Published 5 months ago by Beverly J. Larence
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