Review: The River Mouth by Karen Herbert

 

Title: The River Mouth

Author: Karen Herbert

Published: 1st October 2021, Fremantle Press

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Fremantle Press

 

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

In Karen Herbert’s accomplished crime fiction debut, The River Mouth, a mother resumes her search for answers to the unsolved murder of her teenage son when the decade old case is reopened in the wake of the death of her best friend.

Sandra Davies is stunned when the police advise her that not only has the body of her best friend, Barbara Russell, been found in the Pilbara desert, but that routine tests discovered Barbara’s DNA matched a sample taken from the under the fingernails of her late son. Darren was shot dead by an unknown assailant while swimming in the river with friends ten years earlier, but what possible motive could explain Barbara killing a fifteen year old boy?

As Sandra tries to make sense of this unexpected development, convinced Barbara is blameless, Herbert unravels the past from the perspective of Barbara’s son, and Darren’s best friend, Colin. Darren is a high-spirited teenager, full of teenage bravado, with a sharp tongue, while Colin is more reserved and thoughtful. When Darren is not helping out his dad, a successful cray fisherman, the boys spend much of their time together, at school and on weekends, often joined by Tim, and occasionally Amy. While they occasionally cause mischief, and push against their parents’ rules, the group are fairly typical teenagers. I thought Herberts characterisation of the teens was realistic, and felt that she deftly captured their dialogue, attitudes and behaviours.

It becomes clear as the story unfolds that the insular Western Australian costal community in which Sandra lives harbours more than one secret that could have led to Darren’s murder, and Herbert uses these red herrings to good effect. The novel is well paced, with the suspense managed effectively across both timelines. Though the ambiguous circumstances of Barbara’s passing remains an irritant to me, I think the mystery of Darren’s death is satisfactorily resolved, even if the aftermath is somewhat non-traditional.

The River Mouth is an impressive debut, and a fine addition to the growing oeuvre of rural Australian crime fiction.

++++++++

Available from Fremantle Press

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Oct 14, 2021 @ 01:01:23

    I love this cover.
    Great review. I have not heard of this book but it does sound interesting.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Jennifer
    Oct 14, 2021 @ 12:10:38

    Great review: I have just bought a copy 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  3. Greg
    Oct 14, 2021 @ 12:32:42

    Sounds good. I like the Australia setting and the fact that the red herrings are done well, and that the teens seem realistic. Especially for a debut! I’m curious too from that synopsis what the connection is between the cases…

    Like

    Reply

  4. Trin Carl
    Oct 18, 2021 @ 00:23:55

    I may pick up this book. I don’t know a whole lot about Australia but am fascinated.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

I want to know what you think! Your comments are appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s