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River Deep [Paperback]

Priscilla Masters
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2005
Life in Shrewsbury is normally calm and uneventful. However, when the River Severn bursts its banks, a body is discovered floating in a flooded cottage. Coroner Martha Gunn is one of the first to be called to the scene. In the fetid cottage Martha s instincts tell her that this is a homicide -- a hunch borne out by the post mortem. The victim is presumed to be the cottage s tenant, James Humphreys, who recently went missing. However, when asked to identify the body, his wife Cressida is adamant that it is not her husband. Martha Gunn is left with many perplexing questions. Who, then, is the victim? Why has he been murdered? And where has the real Mr. Humphreys gone?"

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Review

"River Deep is a simmering mystery, set in a seemingly peaceful town in England. But a terrible murder has committed, of a man who cannot be positively identified -- and with another man gone missing. A female coroner must question her instincts concerning the death, before more crime is unleashed upon the defenseless village in this tense page-turner." -- The Midwest Book Review's "The Bookwatch"

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A simmering mystery June 6 2004
Format:Hardcover
River Deep is a simmering mystery, set in a seemingly peaceful town in England. But a terrible murder has committed, of a man who cannot be positively identified - and with another man gone missing. A female coroner must question her instincts concerning the death, before more crime is unleashed upon the defenseless village in this tense page-turner.
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2.0 out of 5 stars intriguing plot marred by bad pacing... May 27 2004
By tregatt
Format:Hardcover
In the middle of making sure that all the inhabitants of River Terrace in the historic town of Shrewsbury have evacuated (the River Severn has burst its banks), the police make the startling discovery of a body in one of the houses. The house that the body was found in had been rented by James Humphreys, and the police, naturally, assume that the body is that of Humphreys; except that when Humphreys' wife turns up, she categorically denies that the body is that of her husband's. So if the body isn't James Humphreys', what was the dead man doing in the house that Humphreys rented? And why was he wearing Humphreys' clothes? And when the autopsy shows that the dead man was murdered in the house (the cellar actually), and then left there, Coroner Martha Gunn discovers the this particular case has captured her interest in a way that few others have. And she cannot help but want to be part of the investigation. And so, even though she shouldn't, Martha finds herself taking a hand in the investigation...
I had high expectations of "River Deep," unfortunately, my hopes were not met. The plot was a very intriguing one, unfortunately the pacing was really off -- the flow was uneven and the story unfolded in fits and starts. And there was a scarcity of clues and suspects (red herrings or otherwise) -- this really frustrated me! Also halfway through the book, the novel's heroine, Martha Gunn, seems to have figured out what was going on before the police. Now how she was able to do this really stumped me -- perhaps I'm not as intelligent as I think I am! -- but I began to feel really sympathetic towards the blundering in the dark police officers. The other thing that frustrated me was that the authour had tagged on a small stalking subplot to the novel.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars intriguing plot marred by bad pacing... May 27 2004
By tregatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the middle of making sure that all the inhabitants of River Terrace in the historic town of Shrewsbury have evacuated (the River Severn has burst its banks), the police make the startling discovery of a body in one of the houses. The house that the body was found in had been rented by James Humphreys, and the police, naturally, assume that the body is that of Humphreys; except that when Humphreys' wife turns up, she categorically denies that the body is that of her husband's. So if the body isn't James Humphreys', what was the dead man doing in the house that Humphreys rented? And why was he wearing Humphreys' clothes? And when the autopsy shows that the dead man was murdered in the house (the cellar actually), and then left there, Coroner Martha Gunn discovers the this particular case has captured her interest in a way that few others have. And she cannot help but want to be part of the investigation. And so, even though she shouldn't, Martha finds herself taking a hand in the investigation...
I had high expectations of "River Deep," unfortunately, my hopes were not met. The plot was a very intriguing one, unfortunately the pacing was really off -- the flow was uneven and the story unfolded in fits and starts. And there was a scarcity of clues and suspects (red herrings or otherwise) -- this really frustrated me! Also halfway through the book, the novel's heroine, Martha Gunn, seems to have figured out what was going on before the police. Now how she was able to do this really stumped me -- perhaps I'm not as intelligent as I think I am! -- but I began to feel really sympathetic towards the blundering in the dark police officers. The other thing that frustrated me was that the authour had tagged on a small stalking subplot to the novel. This was NOT resolved at all, and Martha, the victim of this stalking simply shrugs it off!! I must be the only person to have found this development baffling and disturbing since neither the authour nor her editors were too worried about this. Ultimately however it was the poor and uneven pacing together with the scarcity of clues and suspects that made this a 2 star read for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simmering mystery June 6 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
River Deep is a simmering mystery, set in a seemingly peaceful town in England. But a terrible murder has committed, of a man who cannot be positively identified - and with another man gone missing. A female coroner must question her instincts concerning the death, before more crime is unleashed upon the defenseless village in this tense page-turner.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great First in a Series April 16 2014
By Sharon G. Mensing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The first in the Martha Gunn series, in which she is a very inquisitive coroner in England along the Wales border. Masters does a great job with the setting along the River Severn in Shrewsbury, helping me escape completely into the book. The characterization is terrific, and Martha Gunn is a very appealing sleuth. She's a widow of nearly 10 years, raising her twins with the help of a Swedish au pair. Throughout the book, she is very human, dealing with personal issues and relationships as she tries to solve, from the sidelines, a confusing series of murders that are unearthed by the flooding river. As a coroner she has a reason to be involved and a connection with the police, but she goes beyond her official role because of her curiosity. There is a thread of the story that is not resolved, and perhaps that is so that it can continue throughout the series. But since I wanted it resolved, that's what keeps this a 4.5 and not a 5. Loved the book, and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next in the series, "Slipknot."
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow going. Feb. 25 2014
By AB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the first book I've read by Priscilla Masters. I like a book with a lot of dialog, as I feel they read "faster". This is not one of those. I feel like I am plodding along until I eventually I reach the end. It seems like I am reading for hours and hours, but barely finish a chapter. I purchased the 2nd volume in the series at the same time I bought this one, so I will wait to completely pass judgement until I finish this one --- if I ever do.
3.0 out of 5 stars Tolerable Mystery Loses Steam in the Middle Sept. 14 2012
By Sires - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I also thought this book started off well with a corpse discovered in a flooded cottage in the hitherto peaceful town of Shrewsbury. Coroner Martha Gunn is notified and the whole process of the Coroner's Inquest begins. As the author points out the Coroner is to make a determination as to the identity of the deceased and by what manner they died. While she can order forensic examination of the body she is not part of the police. Some Coroners have taken public stands on certain issues they think are important, but Martha has not done so in the past. (The Inquest on Princess Diana's death is one where a Coroner gained some notoriety in the exercise of his power.)

Martha is a physician rather than a lawyer, but her ten year deceased spouse was a lawyer so she can always remember something he said or they discussed when she needs to bring in some legal knowledge not supplied by the investigating police officer. She also has two children, twins, and a Scandinavian au pair to help with the child care while she performs her official and unofficial duties.

I was really going along ok with the story. The author introduces some plot strands that were obviously not going to be resolved in the current book: mysterious phone calls to Martha's residence, etc., and an odd sort of antique dealer who has opened up shop in Shrewsbury just in time to get flooded. Her refusal to take the stalking incidents to the police is frustrating to say the least.

I started to get impatient as I figured the heart of the mystery out much faster than Martha did. When she decided to disguise herself with heavier than usual make up, sun glasses and flashy clothes and go poking around like a private detective I nearly gave up. At this point the action slowed down and nearly ground to a halt.

However, I soldiered on to the end. The conclusion was what I expected after the first 3rd of the book. The whole book wasn't horribly written, but it also had quite a few things that made it a mediocre read.

I should note I listened to it rather than read it. It's available on Audible. The narrator is Patricia Gallimore who has a dreadful time with voicing children. She reads them consistently (and I mean as in every child in every book I have listened to her narrate) in a voice that sounds whiny and what I can only describe as pinched. Luckily she is better with adults although not one of my favorites by any mean. The unabridged version is 9 1/2 hours long.

First in the series, followed by Slip Knot.
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