The River Below

Bonnie Hearn Hill. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8745-0
Set in central California, this poignant standalone from Hill (Last Words) is as much a story about friendship and loss as it is a mystery. Claire Barrett, an environmental scientist working on a San Joaquin River restoration project, is shaken when an antique pistol is found in the mangled wreckage of a car pulled from the river and a badly decomposed body is discovered nearby. Claire, who recognizes the gun, sets off looking for answers, a journey that leads her to question her past life and relationships. Meanwhile, she becomes increasingly aware that her best friend, Tessa McCall, a volunteer on the river restoration project, has early-onset dementia. In the touching chapters told from Tessa’s point-of-view, she tries desperately to hang on to her fading memories, feeling fear, paranoia, sadness, and even momentary pleasure as she relives events of long ago. A link between Tessa and the murder mystery gradually emerges as this emotionally involving novel builds to a surprising, heart-wrenching climax. Hill’s balanced treatment of environmental issues will resonate with many readers. Agent: Laura Dail, Laura Dail Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/13/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
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