River Deep Paperback – Feb 28 2005
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"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"
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Alas. My first Priscilla Masters novel will probably be my last. I heard alarm bells on the opening page, when the narrator seemed to like one ponderous, trite line so well ("You cannot tame nature") that she followed it almost immediately with another ("You cannot contain nature"). But I tried not to listen to the alarms because, as I said, I wanted to find a compelling new writer, and besides, it's not fair to dismiss a story based on a couple of cliches. So I pressed on, keeping up my optimism even while picking a few more nits (such as a police surgeon in her 50s being described as "elderly").
By the middle of the book, though, I had reluctantly given up hope. If style is not Masters' strength, neither is plot. This one is as leaky, debris-filled, and over-the-top as the flooding river Severn with which the novel opens. I was willing to accept (sort of) that the cops would let the coroner muscle into their investigations the way our heroine Martha does, since what do I know from coroners? Maybe they *do* call up senior detectives and offer suggestions on how to investigate a major case. Maybe they *do* carry on their own undercover operations without telling anyone or without worrying whether their actions might eventually compromise a trial. For all I know, the cops might even allow the coroner to watch them interrogate suspects, the way they do here.
But would the cops really let the coroner *conduct* the interrogations of major suspects in a case where guilt (let alone conviction) is by no means assured -- and where the cops haven't even had a chance to investigate the coroner's seemingly off-the-wall murder theory? Wouldn't a defense attorney go to town over this sort of irregularity?
Well, maybe the legal system works this way in Shrewsbury. And even if it doesn't, no one ever said that a detective novel had to be totally factually accurate to be good. But it does have to be psychologically accurate to be good, and this book isn't. Like a previous Amazon reviewer, I was baffled by Martha's non-response to being stalked (she has only a few fleeting moments of concern, despite living alone with her two pre-teens in a significantly isolated house). And as for the solution to the murders. . .I suppose it's possible that people might think and act in this way, but before I can be convinced, I need a lot more psychological exploration of character than this book provides (or at least more of the authorial legerdemain that allows a writer to pull off an implausible premise.) Paging Patricia Highsmith. . .
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.