Official Review: Where the River Runs Deep by Lynne Handy

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MarisaRose
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Official Review: Where the River Runs Deep by Lynne Handy

Post by MarisaRose » 08 Dec 2017, 16:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Where the River Runs Deep" by Lynne Handy.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Where the River Runs Deep by Lynne Handy is a mystery set in the small North Carolina town of Cherapee. Maria, a non-native, decides to spend her summer in Cherapee participating in a writer’s retreat. Her decision is not only spurred by the urging of a close friend; upon learning of her husband’s infidelity, Maria is ready for an escape. Cherapee reunites Maria with an old college friend, Bo, who has traveled to the quaint southern town to investigate a series of murders involving the town’s prominent family. Little does Maria know that she will soon be pulled into the investigation, and her idea of a calm summer filled with writing will fall to the wayside.

There is a great deal to like about this book, but the author’s articulate and expressive writing style was by far my favorite element. Told in the first person perspective, the author quickly creates an emotional connection between Maria, the narrator, and the reader. The intensity of Maria’s anxiety as she deals with unfamiliar surroundings, the potential loss of her marriage, meeting new people, and the general eeriness of Cherapee radiate off each page. Further, Maria is a poet, and her narration is simply poetic. The connection between the author’s written word and the main character is so clear, one can’t help but think Maria is a real person.

Although there are a few mysteries surrounding the murder of various subjects, the main mystery of this story involves Cherapee and its unpleasant history. When I finished the novel, at first I felt parts of the murder mystery were lacking: there was no way for the reader to solve the murders based on the information provided. However, when I contemplated the story as a whole, it dawned on me that the more important mystery, the mystery surrounding this narrow-minded southern town, was not only more interesting, but also detectable as the plot progressed. Therefore, I thought the author was incredibly successful in delivering an intriguing and page-turning mystery.

Lastly, I greatly enjoyed that Maria is not a typical protagonist for a mystery; she is not a detective and she has no experience in the field. Maria is portrayed as a normal person experiencing personal upheaval and looking for an escape. Yet her escape leads her through significantly more disorder than she could have imagined, and the character adequately displays appropriate emotions in these circumstances. As an outsider, Maria has a keen perspective of Cherapee, and even more so given her relationship with one of its natives, Amen, a prisoner she met while teaching a prison poetry class. Her help in solving the mystery of the town and the murders was plausible. I was fascinated by the intricate web the author wove between Maria, her past, her personal circumstances, and her growth during her time in Cherapee.

Where the River Runs Deep proved to be engaging, emotional and thought-provoking. My only complaint is that I wish I could have spent more time with Maria and her poetic narrative. This book succeeds as a character study, a cultural reflection, and, of course, as a mystery, which is why I award it 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy non-procedural mysteries and thrillers with a strong female narrator.

******
Where the River Runs Deep
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Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 09 Dec 2017, 07:53

What an insightful review! This brought to my remembrance to my previous reading which is Bag of Bones one of Stephen King‘s book. I can sense there is a little replica between these 2 stories. I am sure that I will enjoy reading this story.
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Post by MarisaRose » 09 Dec 2017, 09:38

ParadoxicalWoman wrote:
09 Dec 2017, 07:53
What an insightful review! This brought to my remembrance to my previous reading which is Bag of Bones one of Stephen King‘s book. I can sense there is a little replica between these 2 stories. I am sure that I will enjoy reading this story.
Thank you for commenting! I too have read Bag of Bones, and though there may be some similarities in setting and tone, the author's prose really sets this one apart.
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Post by Anjum » 10 Dec 2017, 06:58

Wow! A girl without a detective background solving a mystery really sounds interesting. I think that I am gonna give it a try. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Mercy Bolo » 10 Dec 2017, 07:48

Maria sounds like an amazing character. Solving a mystery is surely a unique way to deal with heartbreak.
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Post by kandscreeley » 10 Dec 2017, 08:21

I love that Maria is a normal person. Sounds like an interesting story with some great writing. Nice review. Thanks.
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Post by inaramid » 10 Dec 2017, 12:07

I liked your analysis of Maria's character and how you pointed out how she's not the typical detective you'd find in many books. That's the part I find the most intriguing about this. I'm definitely putting this on my must-read list. Thank you!

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Post by powergirl » 14 Dec 2017, 14:57

A good story about murder,treachery,romance and race relations!!!
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Post by bookowlie » 14 Dec 2017, 21:39

What a wonderful review of what sounds like a great book! I like that you first thought the mystery parts were lacking and, after thinking about it more, you had a different perspective. I find that it's hard to stop thinking about a really good book, long after finishing the last page. :)
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 15 Dec 2017, 10:35

Wow sounds revolutionary! The twist of murder and mystery adds credit to this well structured book.
Thank you for the review!
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Post by CatInTheHat » 16 Dec 2017, 16:05

I love strong female protagonists. The overall storyline sounds like it would me up at night, trying to get to the end.
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Post by hrwheeler » 16 Dec 2017, 18:08

Great review, thank you, looking forward to reading it.

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Post by spookkyfoxx » 08 Jan 2018, 14:16

As someone who hated growing up in a "narrow-minded southern town", I love the idea of this book! I will definitely have to check it out, thanks for the great review!!

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Post by CalHull » 10 Jan 2018, 20:34

I love books where the setting is almost a character in itself, and from your review it seems like Cherapee fits that bill, so I’m probably going to give this book a try.
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