JUST FINISHED: Crooked River

Author: Valerie Geary

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Two young girls find a dead body of a woman floating in a river near their home. The sight of the woman evokes a sense of questionable fear and resurfaces their feelings of sorrow from their own mother’s death only a few weeks before. Clues start surfacing and everyone begins to point the finger at their own father. But neither girls believe that their father could do such a thing and begin in their own way to unravel the mystery, sometimes helping and sometimes worsening the whole situation.

Geary produced an easy read filled with flowing imagery that explores the concepts of grief, love, and forgiveness. What I enjoyed about this novel was the slow, nostalgic way that Geary writes. It draws you in and keeps you there.

The negative items were the “too big clues” and irrational character decisions. What I mean by “too big clues” (SPOILER ALERT) were items that obviously point towards the truth behind the murder motive and murderer before it should be unveiled. The murderer’s son, Travis, trying to plant a lighter in the meadow. Travis catching Sam trying to throw away the jacket. The rude reaction of Mrs. Roth when Sam and Ollie are at the Attic store. The crazy talk from Mr. Roth to Ollie. I shouldn’t be able to pin point the murderer by the fourth chapter. Moves like that make that plot point not as intriguing.

Irrational character decisions is a pet peeve for me. An adult who realizes he may have a jacket belonging to a murder victim turns it in immediately if they are innocent. They don’t hold onto it, waiting for a child to do an adult’s job. I realize Bear himself was still growing, but still, really? The second big irrationality was on the Roth’s. You burn evidence left from your murder victim. Or dump it somewhere. You don’t randomly keep it locked up in your work basement or carry her lighter around in your pocket and use it. Especially in front of the person-who-you-are-trying-to-frame’s daughter. The third is deciding to kidnap a little girl and convince her sister to come alone to free her on the condition that she’ll confess a false story. No, no it just doesn’t happen like that. If you received a call that someone confessed to having your sister and for you to come alone, you call the police. You would never go to a possible murderer’s house alone. I mean seriously, what are your chances of coming out alive? And as the kidnapper, how irresponsible do you get? Why even kidnap a little girl who found some evidence? No one would believe a little girl who doesn’t talk! Just kick her out and burn it! You also would not keep the kidnappee in a maniac’s workshop if you intend to let her live….there’s just way too many things near the end that are “movie syndrome.” Doing the impossible and illogical to finish the plot.

Overall this was an alright novel. Not the greatest of mysteries, but at least enough to keep me interested.

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