From the award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages comes a “gripping read with emotion-charged twists and turns” (Tess Gerritsen) about a professor accused of killing her student in a hit-and-run accident.Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party when she hits a deer. Yet when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is gone. Eager to get home before the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year… The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before, and because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the her daughter’s death, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected. As she digs further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, has been hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her life is destroyed for ever?
I had never heard of Carol Goodman before, but when I read the synopsis of this book, I just knew it would be a great read. I’m so glad I wasn’t disappointed. Unfortunately, after I read the book I completely forgot to give all of you my report on the book. My thinking is that it is better late than never, and I’m sure you can still find great copies of the book out there at your local book store or online!
The story is about Nan (Nancy) Lewis who is a college professor driving on River Road on her way home from a faculty party when she hits what she believes to be a deer. River Road is the same road where a drunk driver had killed her young daughter, Emmy, six years earlier. The truth is that Nan had left the party very upset because she had just found out that she had been denied tenure at the college where she is teaching. She also had a bit too much to drink at the Christmas party if the truth be told. Once Nan hits the deer, she stops her car and walks away to try and locate it but sees no evidence of the wounded deer – not even a trace – so she goes on home. When she awakens the next morning, Nan learns that Leia Dawson, one of her more gifted students, has been killed in a hit and run accident in exactly the same spot where Nan hit the deer the night before.
Nan truly believes she hit a deer, but the truth is that her memory of the night before is a bit confusing. She believes she fell asleep in the woods while she was out looking for the deer and while asleep, Nan dreams of the accident that killed her daughter.
Because of the location of the accidents, there’s a memorial area where people leave tokens which make it appear as though Hannah Mulder, the driver who killed Nan’s daughter while drunk, may have something to do with this new accident.
I have to admit that while I liked the story line here, I did feel like Nan was making some really stupid choices that I don’t necessarily think a person in her situation with her education would make. It was kind of getting on my nerves too but by the end of the book, I could identify with her as a person struggling with guilt and self-loathing while at the same time struggling with the fact that she’s a functioning alcoholic. That in itself makes her the perfect person to frame as the villain in this story.
Carol Goodman writes a very compelling mystery with River Road. I felt that the characters were very likable and I appreciated the fact that their human flaws were shown. I loved the use of smoke screens – aka plot changers and decoys – to hide the true identity of the “hit and run driver” for most of the book. River Road is definitely one of those “whodunit” kind of novels that I highly recommend to readers who like a good mystery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carol Goodman graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin. After teaching Latin for several years, she studied for an MFA in Fiction. She is the author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, and, under the pseudonym Juliet Dark, The Demon Lover, which Booklist named a top ten science fiction/fantasy book for 2012.
Her YA novel, Blythewood, was named a best young adult novel by the American Library Association. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages.
She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches creative writing at The New School and SUNY New Paltz.
I received a complimentary copy of River Road from the publishers without cost in exchange for this post. I was not required to leave a positive review, but I am doing so since it was a great book!