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When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them. One father is forced to relive his agony while another’s greatest desire—to bring a killer to justice—is revitalized . . . and the girl who survived the icy plunge cannot escape the sense that she is connected to that earlier unsolved case by more than a river. Soon enough she’s caught up in an investigation of her own that will unearth long-hidden secrets, and stoke the violence that has long simmered just below the surface of the town. Souls frozen in time, ghosts and demons, the accused and the guilty, all stir to life in this cold northern place where memories, like treachery, run just beneath the ice, and where a young woman can come home but still not be safe.
Brilliantly plotted, unrelentingly suspenseful, and beautifully realized, The Current is a gripping page-turner about how the past holds the key to the future as well as an unbreakable grip on the present.
This was a new author for me. I needed a change of pace since I read so much romance. I was looking for a thriller, a little mystery to shake things up.
I found the premise enticing, two girls driving home from college end up in an icy river, only one survives. The surviving girl returns home, searching for answers to another murder of girl in the river ten years prior.
This story had the makings of a great thriller. However, I found myself confused, even unsure of what was happening. There are so many characters, so many different perspectives running underneath what I thought was going to be the unraveling of who killed Caroline. Instead the story focuses on the murder of Holly Burke. I couldn’t connect with any one character, as much as I wanted to. In fact, so many of the characters were really interesting that I wish more time had been spent developing their stories. I needed a more cohesive storyline for these two very distinctive stories. Yes there are parallels between Audrey and Caroline and Holly. However Audrey and Caroline’s story is completely separate from Holly’s. The Current is really Holly’s story alone in my opinion.
With every page I turned, I found myself waiting. Waiting for the story come full circle, to connect all the dots, to answer all the questions I had. Instead I was left…incomplete. There’s a lot of story in The Current, almost too much narrative. I almost felt bad for Audrey as the book progressed, it became less and less about the crime committed against her and Caroline and more about Holly Burke’s murder. Where is Audrey’s closure? Where is Caroline’s justice? While I enjoyed some of the back story, it was still confusing putting it all together. I’m sitting here not entirely satisfied. I’m all for imagining what happened after the last page, but this is different. It’s like I got part of an ending for part of the story.
In the end, the reader is left to make their own conclusions about what happened to Danny (who I didn’t even mention), and about Audrey and Caroline’s accident.
* I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book *
In addition to Descent, Tim Johnston is the author of the story collection Irish Girl, and the young adult novel Never So Green.Irish Girl won the 2009 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Johnston’s stories have also appeared in New England Review, New Letters, the Iowa Review, the Missouri Review, DoubleTake, Best Life Magazine, and Narrative Magazine, among others. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and lives in Iowa City.