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Down River: A Novel Paperback – March 29, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
John Hart’s 2006 debut, The King of Lies (**** Selection
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Top Customer Reviews
A great, twisty story well told with a very satisfactory ending. Laid out very well such that you don't have to have detail upon detail in the last 50 pages to explain all the connections that tie everything together - a sign of a very good, practiced author. Kudos, John Hart.
I am looking forward to reading Redemption Road and anything else by John Hart. It's a pleasure to find an author who writes books of such substance and tells his stories so beautifully. LWS
Characters do things that make no sense whatsoever. One character asks "why did you do THAT?" And they respond with a reason that makes no logical sense, but gives the plot some gas to get to the next thing.
A revelation is made that makes you go "huh?" and then the narrator explains "well, because..." ; that happens only when two characters don't talk in totally unnatural, exposition-heavy dialogue.
The story begins as Adam Chase drives back into his home town in Rowan County, North Carolina. We learn that Adam has not been there for five years, that he has not even been in contact with anyone there - not even his main squeeze Robin Alexander, who has worked her way up to detective on the small police force. We come to find out that the reason Adam left was a murder trial in which he was the defendant, acquitted but none the less considered guilty by most of the town - including his step mother who testified against him. This latter fact caused a rift between Adam and his father Jacob, a rift Adam did not see as being able to be mended.
The reason Adam returned to Rowan county was a cryptic message from Danny Faith, one of Adam's oldest and dearest friends. Adam almost did not return, but in the end felt he owed it to Danny. He had not been in town 24 hours when he had a run in with Danny's father Zebulon, who not only felt Adam was guilty of murder, but also felt the wealth of the Chase family was the reason Adam did not go to jail. After an ambulance ride to the emergency room, Adam was picked up by Robin, who let him know she was over him and the offer of her apartment did not come with any fringe benefits. Adam, however, was not able to locate Danny Faith and was told he went to Florida to hide from an assault and battery charge from his ex-girlfriend.
But it seemed as if Adam's presence dug up some all to fresh memories, despite the five year interlude. Not long after his inglorious return to his childhood home, a severe beating there had him under police suspicion once again. Later, a body is found, and the local sheriff was out to implicate Adam. Things surely did not look good for him. Add into the mix that half the town wanted Jacob to sell 1400 acres to the power company for a new plant to be built, and the town was boiling over with accusations and hatred. But the worse things got for Adam, the deeper he dug. And just when you thought you might have figured out the mystery, another layer was peeled away and you were back to square one.
I really enjoyed this book. It is not every author that could pull this story off the way John Hart did. I really wanted things to turn out right for Adam (not saying they didn't) and became frustrated with him at times, especially for his inability to control his temper. It is not every novel that can keep me invested in the experiences of the characters, but "Down River" did this and more. I recommend this to any mystery buff who is looking for something a little bit different.