River Road

riverroad“This place. How many lives had it taken? I should have been driving slower. But there was nothing I could do now. I should have been watching, but the deer was probably okay. I should just go home.”

River Road
by Carol Goodman

Nan Lewis was attending a holiday party when she finds out that she’s been denied tenure. There are confrontations with other faculty members and a scene witnessed by a student so Nan leaves the party with her emotions in turmoil.

On the drive home, her mind is muddled by the drinks she had and the upsetting news, so when she sees a flash and hears a thump she knows she must have hit a deer. She parks her car and starts to look for signs of the hurt animal but doesn’t find anything. She eventually sits and waits in the cold as the snow starts to fall.

She finally makes it home after not finding the deer and is woken up the next day to find a police officer at her door with the news that Leia Dawson, one of her star students, was killed in a hit and run on River Road. Nan’s car is found to have damages consistent with the accident and the officer takes her in for questioning. All the while, Nan is certain that she didn’t hit Leia and besides how could she have done that when she knows what it is like to lose a loved one like that. It’s been more than six years since Nan’s own daughter was killed in a similar fashion.

Through the process of finding out what happened to Leia, Nan will learn more about herself and how she must change her life. She realizes that she has let herself become consumed by the grief of her daughter’s death but she’s been spiraling down for years and she needs to change before it’s too late. It will be a startling find for all of those involved in the investigation to know that the tight-knit community of the university also has it’s share of secrets.

I have always found Carol Goodman’s novels to have almost a dream like quality to the settings and this is no exception. The snowy days, the cold that seems to seep through every layer and the lonely campus all work to create an atmospheric thriller. Perhaps because I had not too long ago read a book with an unreliable narrator due to her drinking, it was a bit hard to feel much compassion for Nan. There were some elements of the book I didn’t care for too much o perhaps not my favorite Goodman novel but I don’t doubt I’ll be up for whatever book she publishes next.

Source: Advance Review Copy

  1. April 29, 2016
  2. April 29, 2016
  3. May 3, 2016