Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
by John Hart
Reviewed by Judi Morrel
Each year the Mystery Writers of America
bestows an Edgar (as in Edgar Allen Poe) Award for the best mystery
novel of the year, and in 2008 John Hart's second novel, Down
River, won that award. Rife with evocative descriptions, water and
river imagery, and exquisitely flawed characters, this book
demonstrates that a fast-paced, excellently plotted mystery can be
fine literature as well.
Set in North Carolina, the novel revolves around a prodigal son
character, Adam Chase, who has returned to the Chase family
homestead, Red River Farm, following a five-year exile in New York
City, self-imposed after he was narrowly acquitted of murder. His
return was precipitated by a puzzling phone call from a childhood
pal, asking Adam to come home. When Adam arrives in Rowan County,
NC, he finds that his pal is missing, his family is on the verge of
imploding, his ex-lover Robin, a local policewoman, is still
hurting emotionally from his flight to NYC, and most townspeople
still believe he "got away with one" five years earlier.
As people are attacked, fires are deliberately set, and dead
bodies appear, suspicion falls on Adam. With emotions already
running high in the county over the building of a nuclear power
plant and Adam's father's refusal to sell land for it, tensions
threaten to blow the region sky high.
The twisting plot includes several surprises along the way,
revealing old family secrets, resolving some things and leaving
some things unresolved, and thoroughly entertaining the reader.
- Judi Morrel is associate professor of mathematics and
associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at