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River of Darkness (John Madden Mysteries (Paperback)) Paperback – May 31, 2005
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"It's the tactics and the terrain, the morale and the characters that make the difference between an average thriller and one as good as this."—Christopher Dickey, The New York Times Book Review
"One of the best mysteries I have read in years."—The Boston Globe
"Airth writes with arresting authority and compassion...a major talent."—Chicago Tribune
"All the familiar elements of suspense writing are given an unusual and satisfying twist in this grim and fascinating thriller—the initial volume of a promised series...A fine, frightening piece of work."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Readers who are looking for smart, well-plotted psychological mysteries will be delighted."—Booklist
About the Author
Rennie Airth was born in South Africa and worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters before becoming a novelist. He is the author of two other John Madden mysteries, River of Darkness, a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and a Macavity Award for Best Mystery, and a New York Times Notable Book, and The Blood-Dimmed Tide. He lives in Cortona, Italy.
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In 1919 thousands of damaged combatants returned to England from the battlefields of Europe. Thousands more never returned. One former soldier goes back to England to resume an interrupted career as an investigator with Scotland Yard. Another returns to the south of England with the skills to feed his desperate and evil diseased mind. This is the story of his crimes and the search by Inspector John Madden for the man ever more insistently to prevent further depredations.
The novel is written with powerful authority, The political maneuverings inside Scotland Yard, the relationships that developed between officials from London and the rural polices forces, the action sequences all serve the story and the reader well.
The detective, John Madden, is a burned out veteran of the war who returns to his job at Scotland Yard after his stint in the army. Although the setting may be old school, the crime is not. An entire family is slaughtered with the only survivor being a young child who hides under a bed. Madden is quick to figure out how the crime was committed but the brutality is rare and the why even less so.
The reader is let in on snippets that follow the murderer, but it is only near the very end of the book that the true motive (bizarre though it is) is revealed. Liked it a lot. Fine writing. Will read the rest.
This is the 1st in a series and
John Madden is a detective with Scotland Yard recently returned from the horrors of WWI. He suffers from shell shock, what would now be known as PTSD, with all of its attendant nightmares and nervousness. Everybody notices that he is a changed man, but the fact that he is an exceptional detective has returned him to the Yard at the same rank as before the war.
Several viscious murders have taken place at a country manor. At first it is thought to be a robbery gone wrong, but investigation reveals that similar murders have taken place in England and in Europe during WWI. The murderer is revealed early in chapters from his point of view and what remains is how he will be caught and the tension that he will murder again before he is caught. Predictably, Madden's love interest is in the sights of the murderer. This predictability was the only weak point in an otherwise wonderful historical mystery. I did skim the last half of the book as I knew every plot-twist in advance, but I also bought another book in the series, so overall a recommendation both for this book and the series.