5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Running River
I happened upon this series by accident. I enjoy historical mysteries and thrillers so the book was a good bet. I don't like reviewing plots as I hate having the story given away and won't do that for others. I will tell you that the book is well and smoothly written, a real pleasure to read. The plot is engaging and the mystery continues even after the killer is...
Published on July 14 2010 by Dave and Joe
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious river of tedium
Rennie Airth's "River of Darkness" is an ambitious book. it wants to be a good psychological thriller while also being a good post World War I novel. Well, that fails. The psychology is sound, as the hero, John Madden, learns of what could be driving the killer. Madden is a haunted widower who is also scarred mentally from war. His love interest is also...
Published on May 26 2004 by Peter LaPrade
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Running River,
This review is from: River of Darkness Book 1 (Paperback)I happened upon this series by accident. I enjoy historical mysteries and thrillers so the book was a good bet. I don't like reviewing plots as I hate having the story given away and won't do that for others. I will tell you that the book is well and smoothly written, a real pleasure to read. The plot is engaging and the mystery continues even after the killer is revealed. I enjoyed the book right to the last page. If you like mysteries, history and a thrill ride - I think you'll like the book. I've already moved on to the next in the series, I came to care for the characters and was please to know that I could meet them again in the pages of the next in the series.
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival takes many forms,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Paperback)The setting for this novel is a post World War I Britain: still reeling from the combined effects of war and the influenza epidemic of 1918.
A local family in Surrey has been massacred in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. Enter Inspector John Madden, a veteran of the trenches, who has lost his wife and young daughter to in the influenza epidemic.
This is Rennie Airth's debut novel, and provides an insight into the emotional after effects of war and personal loss together with an exploration of then contemporary psychiatric theory to try to understand, explain and predict the killer's behaviour.
Well developed characters and tight plotting make this an enjoyable, albeit suspenseful, read.
5.0 out of 5 stars River Of Darkness/A Friendly Favorite,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)I was captivated by John Madden of Scotland Yard, a damaged
veteran of WWI, the sinister killer and most especially Madden's
love interest, Dr. Helen Blackwell. Fine romantic descriptions
of their passion for each other amidst the sinister deceptions
of the villain. Indeed, John Madden was a lucky dog! I'm trying
to locate the author's two earlier works, Snatch, and Once a
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious river of tedium,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)Rennie Airth's "River of Darkness" is an ambitious book. it wants to be a good psychological thriller while also being a good post World War I novel. Well, that fails. The psychology is sound, as the hero, John Madden, learns of what could be driving the killer. Madden is a haunted widower who is also scarred mentally from war. His love interest is also scarred in her own way, and she is also unconviningly forward with Madden. It seems so out of place. The history here is the best part. Airth does get the zeitgeist of 1920s Britain right. His characters, on the other hand, are flat and boring. The killer, who we meet early, is a one-trick pony. That really isn't interesting. Predictable maiden-in-distress as climax, and very predictable ending.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine English Crime Novel,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)Well-plotted with romantic characters. Set after the First World War in rural England without being stodgy. Would make a great A&E Mystery mini-series.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical English Mystery,
By A Customer
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)I have been reading mysteries for over 35 years and happened upon this one at Amazon.com through a book list recommendation. After finishing this book I'm looking for anything else this author has written. I want to know more about Inspector Madden's past, present and future. His setting in post WWI England is a window to a time not so long ago but forgotten in this techno-world we live in today. While I am quite comfortable living in today, I am curious about this period of time and the attitudes of a people who survived being bombed in two major wars. One has to respect the courage of a people who picked up their lives and "got on with it". So you're getting more than an English whodoneit...but you won't be disappointed in the mystery either. There is more than the usual graphic detail but in order to be truly appalled and terrified by the mind of the killer, you need to look through Madden's eyes and see the horror of a man turned monster.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Mystery - Well Done,
By A Customer
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)Superb characters, excellent atmosphere, and fine writing highlight this wonderful English mystery. The shadow of WWI hangs heavy over this story of psychological suspense and the pain of the survivors is thoughtfully addressed. A sensitive, exciting, and immensely interesting novel that will not disappoint. First Rate!
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book.,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)I bought this book because I was looking for something a little different from the action/suspense novels I typically read. Post WWI England setting, a Scotland Yard inspector, I figured I could expect a modern Sherlock Holmes or some stuffy intellectual mystery scenario.
Boy, was I wrong. If you are a fan of action, this book has more than enough for your tastes. There's violence, sex, intrigue, and one truly haunting psychotic killer. And memorable characters. From inspector Madden to the young constable Billy Styles and Dr. Helen Blackwell, all with fantastic little personal quirks that make them all the more human.
If you are squeamish, you might want to skip over some of the murder scene depictions. The language doesn't bother me but there's some pretty graphic stuff here. It helps to reveal the depravity of the killer, but if you can't take it, just turn the page.
One odd observation is that Airth is rather fond of the exclamation point. I've never seen so many in one book. They're everywhere. It works though. Keeps the tone strangely jovial, even with the undercurrents of theoretical criminal psychology and the brooding inspector Madden's determination to find his man. Lots of subtle humor in the narrative as well.
If you're an adreneline junkie, you shouldn't let this book pass you by, but it should appeal to readers of all kinds. Its one of those stories that you get really involved in. You never want it to end. And when it does, you want more. Can't wait to see what Rennie Airth comes up with next, and I hope he keeps his promise to bring back the character of Inspector Madden. I strongly suggest you buy this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Surpasses Anything Else Published in 1999,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)This Debut is set in 1921 Surrey. When a family and their servants are killed in their home in the Surrey countryside, Detective Inspector John Madden of Scotland Yard is assigned the task of finding the killer(s). The entire country is shocked at the multiple murders, a virtually unknown event at the time. Madden is baffled because he can't find a motive, the murderer left no clues at the scene and the press and his superiors are pressing for a quick arrest. With painstaking attention to every detail, Madden, slowly, but surely, begins to unravel the mystery of who killed the family. As the investigation proceeds, Madden has a sense of urgency because he becomes convinced that the killer(s) will kill again and soon.
This is an excellent read, even for those who don't care for procedurals as being too slow moving, because you'll find yourself staying up late to finish just one more chapter. Madden is a very interesting character - flawed because of his experiences during the Great War - but not so flawed as to be insensitive in either his investigation or his relationship with the other characters in the book. The plot is ever changing with several interesting twists and turns. While the history is present, it is not the main thrust of the story - the solving of the multiple murders before the killer(s) kill again is the story here. There are two engaging minor characters - Constable Billy Styles, assigned to his first murder investigation, and Helen Blackwell, the local doctor who is called in to verify that the family is dead. There is some talk that this is the first in a trilogy featuring these characters. One can only hope this is true.
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary and refreshingly original,
This review is from: River of Darkness (Mass Market Paperback)A combination of a 1920's British whodunnit and a serial murder psychological thriller? Descriptions of this book sounded too weird to be true, yet this is exactly what 'River of Darkness' is, and it works - brilliantly.
Set in post-war England, an Inspector haunted by his experience in the trenches and helped by a sucession of village bobbies uses forensics and psychological profileing to track a serial killer - decades before any of these terms are even invented.
The suspense builds as the author shows us the thoughts and doings of the victims, police, and killer, in the lead up to each of his awful and inevitable bursts of random and targeted violence.
The victim's wounds point to a highly specialised military background; physical evidence indicates that the murderer watches his carefully-chosed victims for weeks; psychological opinion has it that his sexual release come only from killing. This killer is far scarier than any modern big-city stalker/slasher - not since Red Dragon have I read of such a truly frightening character. This is an excellent and original book - I totally recommend it.
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River of Darkness by Rennie Airth (Mass Market Paperback - Aug 1 2000)
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