The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
River Bodies by Karen Katchur is part mystery and part police procedural. It is not a “who done it,” but a “why done it” as the characters must come to grips with two brutal murders that occurred two decades apart. There are no solid lines, with a blurring between the good and evil side of each character. But the author successfully weaves in relationships, family dynamics, and loyalty that only enhance the story.
The book examines how loyal should someone be and whether the choices people make are to protect others. Each character looks inward reflecting on what they did to survive. The heroine is Becca Kingsley, a veterinarian, who lives across the river from the Portland, Pennsylvania town she grew up in. She decides to return to spend time with her dying father, who was once Portland’s police chief. Because of his infidelity to her mom she became estranged from him. Now she wants to make amends and to get answers to the memories and long buried secrets. Everything seems to be coming to the surface after the discovery of a man brutally murdered that is tied into a previous murder.The author explores with flashbacks Becca’s teen years that include her relationship with her parents, their separation, and her friendship with Parker Reed, now the present State Homicide Investigative Detective handling the case of the murdered victim found in the river. She realizes the two murders are connected and that she is somehow involved. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships: the man she is living with has infidelities, her father who sent her away to boarding school, Parker whom she wants to renew her romantic feelings with, and a man who’s watched over her for years, that could be more predator than protector.
Becca realizes that there are times when her brain and heart compete. The author noted, “Her head told her what he did was absolutely wrong, but in her heart, she had an emotional kinship with him and saw him as her protector. Regarding her current boyfriend Matt, her Her head told her what he did was absolutely wrong, but in her heart, she had an emotional kinship with him and saw him as her protector.”
Becca’s dog Romy steals the scenes she is in. “I based her on my good friend’s dog who is so cool. She and I run with her dog. I would describe her as a German Shepherd that is a guard dog who is not aggressive, but protective. I also have a dog, but since she is a retriever, she is very submissive. I always grew up with pets so animals are a part of my life. Becca gets solace from Romy. I think when someone has a bad day pets are there to cuddle and hug. This is why I put the book quote, “Romy pushed her warm body against Becca’s leg. She bent down, buried her face in Romy’s face, having turned to animals for comfort ever since that day John had given her that scruffy old barn cat.” Even though my dog is 75 pounds she is still a lap dog.”
Readers will experience a wild ride with the river’s currents, both metaphorically and physically. This is a tension-filled, fast-paced novel that effectively blends together a horrific murder, a mysterious backstory, and vivid characters.