|Published:||2015, Wildside Press|
|No. of Pages:||180|
|Cover Price:||$14.99 Paperback, $4.99 Kindle|
Clyde Linsley, a retired professor, has written several historical suspense thrillers, and Old River has plenty of history on the subject of the Mississippi River during the 1800s and the steamboats that transported goods and passengers. The main story begins when Sheriff John Sprenkel, a newcomer (six years) to Concordia Parish, Louisiana, discovers the badly beaten and bruised body of a woman. There has been a lot of rain, but there are no footprints or signs of a vehicle to drop off the body, so John and his deputy assume that it was dropped from the air. The body turns out to be a graduate student from a very rich family; the sheriff identifies the woman when he shows her picture to another graduate student, Jill, who was her roommate and is willing to help the sheriff solve her murder. Jill is interested in the sheriff romantically, but since he is in Louisiana because he is running from his past, a romantic relationship looks fairly improbable. Once the body is identified, Sprenkel searches for next of kin and discovers the victim’s mother’s and father’s bodies The only family member who isn’t dead is the brother who seems to have vanished.
Every other chapter or so, the story reverts to a historical discourse on the steamboats in the 1800s, as well as the people who improved them and helped them to conquer the powerful river. While the history is interesting, it has absolutely nothing to do with the modern-day murder mystery except that the murder victim was found near the Mississippi River and the sheriff’s jurisdiction is near there.
While there are some twists and turns in the novel, and a somewhat surprise ending (it can easily be guessed around three-fourths through), the characters aren’t particularly interesting, and Jill is too aggressive with the sheriff to make readers want a romantic ending (nobody likes a pushy woman). Also, while readers can assume that they have figured out who the murderer is, and possibly the motive, nothing is actually cut and dried, and readers may wonder if the actual denouement is understood.
While history buffs will enjoy the history of the steamboats, thriller lovers may want to skip this novel. There isn’t much suspense, the storyline is disjointed and isn’t one that will hold much interest for those readers who like fast-moving action and good sleuthing; parts of the novel are just plain unlikely to happen in the small parish.
Special thanks to PJ Nunn of BreakThrough Promotions for supplying a review copy of this novel for a fair and honest review.
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