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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some clever twists
There isn't much product information available on Amazon so to give you an idea what it's about, Adam Chase lives in New York having left his home town five years following an acquital from a murder charge - all this is revealed within first and second chapter so it isn't a plot spoiler - but his friend from home calls him and he has to go back. When he gets home people...
Published on 6 July 2008 by SJSmith

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive and tedious
Often I read reviews on Amazon, where people have generally liked a novel, and there is one where the reviewer writes 'I must be missing something', or words to that effect. Well in the case of this novel, I must be that person, because I don't understand all the hype about it at all.

I just about forced myself to finish it as I was (just) interested enough to...
Published on 12 Aug 2008 by L. H. Healy


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive and tedious, 12 Aug 2008
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
Often I read reviews on Amazon, where people have generally liked a novel, and there is one where the reviewer writes 'I must be missing something', or words to that effect. Well in the case of this novel, I must be that person, because I don't understand all the hype about it at all.

I just about forced myself to finish it as I was (just) interested enough to read the end, but only just. I kept thinking there must be some amazing twists in the plot to come, but they never arrived, and I had already realised what some of the outcomes were going to be earlier on in the book. This isn't a problem if the writing itself is stylish and the tale enthralling enough to keep one reading whether you have worked out the plot in advance or not, but in this case I don't think it is.

The main character, Adam Chase, finally returns to his home town to face the demons of his past, which saw him wrongly accused but fortunately acquitted of the murder of a local young man. The action centres around his family and a small circle of other inhabitants, and gradually unravels how their pasts have actually crossed and reveals hidden secrets that lead to the revelation of the real murderer, but not before a further murder and an assault have occured. Chase rekindles a romance with a local detective on his return and proceeds to antagonise her and the other detectives by going behind their backs to conduct his own investigations.

The relationships could have been built more believably, which would have evoked more empathy with the characters, or at least an understanding. It all just seems a bit sketchy.
If you want a very easy, undemanding read, which admittedly many readers do in the summertime, then maybe give this a try. Evidently many others have enjoyed it more. But I think there are other thrillers out there just as enjoyable but with more style to the writing and more depth to the characters than this one, with more pace and excitement. For me, it simply isn't in the same league as the brilliant 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' by R.J.Ellory, for example. I think I just like my tales a bit more meaty and substantial really.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some clever twists, 6 July 2008
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
There isn't much product information available on Amazon so to give you an idea what it's about, Adam Chase lives in New York having left his home town five years following an acquital from a murder charge - all this is revealed within first and second chapter so it isn't a plot spoiler - but his friend from home calls him and he has to go back. When he gets home people start turning up dead and unfortunately Adam looks like number one suspect with only him being able to clear his name.

The writing style took me a little while to settle into. The sentences are disjointed in places and there is no descriptive narrative as such. The only thing I can compare it to is Gordon Ramsey when he does his recipes and he simply says the bog standard ingredient and method. Hopefully you know what I mean if you've ever watched his most recent shows. Because of this, I couldn't get into a flow and my reading initially wasn't enjoyable. However I soon got used to it and eventually the plot became more of a focus than the writing style.

All of the characters are interesting. Some of the relationships will leave you a bit puzzled, mainly for me that was the relationship between Grace and Adam. Eventually all the links between the characters becomes clear and you can start putting two and two together; yet I don't think you'll ever completely work everything out. John Hart has been clever and there are some amazing aspects of the plot that come in the last quarter of the novel.

I don't feel like it's a fast paced thriller but it is definitely atmospheric and exciting; leaving the reader to question the betrayals that have happened and whether they would do the same in Adam's situation. Even when explanations have occured you are still left with an unsettled feeling of whether people should've done what they did. As for other novels like it, the blurb talks about John Grisham, Scott Turow and Raymond Chandler; I haven't read any of those but they are ones I'll hunt out in the future based on this novel. Whilst I've only given it a 4 star review and not a 5, it is only the writing style that let it down as the plot was great.

This book is part of the Richard & Judy Summer 2008 Reads and I can see why. It has huge appeal for a range of audiences, this is my seventh read from the summer reads and it is third to 'No Time for Goodbye' and 'East of the Sun'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, 18 April 2010
By 
Jonathan Posner (LONDON, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
I see no one's yet given this novel a one-star review. Well somebody had to and I'm afraid it's going to be me.

This is a book populated with far too many people, a ridiculously-convoluted and contrived plot and zero character development. Oh, and it's poorly written - sorry, but it is. Adam Chase has been away from home for five years: we get that on page one. But if you were to count up the number of times the pair of words "five years" subsequently appear it feels like it could be a hundred, maybe more. Everyone knows you've been away for five years so don't hit us over the head with it every three pages - enough already!

I really struggled with this book and could barely get to the last page. I swear that every night while I slept someone snuck in to my bedroom and added another fifty pages to the end because it took me a month to finish it.

The worst part, and the reason I ended up with it in the first place, is that it formed part of a Richard & Judy selection. This is the same book club that has led me to some of the finest books I have ever read, novels like 'The Laments', 'The Testament of Gideon Mack', 'The Girls', 'The Time Traveler's Wife'. They're also the same outfit that chose the magnificent 'The Lincoln Lawyer' by Michael Connelly, a novel of a similar genre to Down River but in a class apart. To call 'Down River' a lapse in judgement for them is, I fear, something of an understatement.

John Hart seems like a nice bloke and I like his stated desire to write about family relationships, a rich seed-bed for a crime novel if ever there was one. I just wish he could do it better.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite brilliant, yet again, 23 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
This is the second book by Hart I have read and he has maintained the standard set in his debut novel.

It revolves around the return of a son to his dysfunctional family after 5 years. He left under suspicion of having committed a murder, although he was acquitted.

There are further murders, a lot of family trouble, deceit and twists and turns in this novel which a Robert Goddard would have been proud of. It is reasonably well-written, plausible, fast-moving and packed with intrigue.

The story sucks you in straight away and I managed to finish the book in two sittings in one day.

There was a small, consistent grammatical error which will annoy some, but that would be petty criticism in light of how strong the book otherwise is.

Keep 'em rolling Mr. Hart!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Palm Sunday all over again, 26 Jun 2009
By 
S. D. Crawshaw (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
Paris 1930s - Picture the scene. Boats floating lazily down the Seine. A quiet summer sunday just before the war. Armand is opening his cafe, daydreaming of his country retreat in Normandy. Suddenly, there is a sharp retort. Peoples heds turn expecting to see a car with a faulty exhaust. What confronts them is a scene of total mayhem. A bomb has exploded onboard a boat on the River.

Thus, John Hart begins this fast paced and earily beautiful tale of subterfuge.
I can guarantee that you will quickly be drawn into this easy to read novel. Mr Hart has a fantastic turn of phrase, and I wonder why his books arent more popular.
A great summer read, only look out for some laugh out loud moments!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull as dishwater, 13 Dec 2011
This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
It's not a good sign when you feel a sense of achievement at finishing a book. Half way through I felt like giving up but determination and bulldog spirit pulled me through. Total detachment from the main character - an egotistical, punchy, dislikeable individual doesn't help. The book consists of a dull plot and unbelievable dialogue. If it was a film this book would be the 1980's low budget made for TV type that used to fill the 2pm slot on Thames television. The greatest thrill from this thriller was putting the book down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just plain painfully tedious, 25 Sep 2010
By 
Ms. Aileen C. Hankin "Mum" (england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
I couldn't wait to finish this book because it was one of the most boring books I have ever read. It was supposed to be a thriller but instead of my heart rate racing it nearly slowed down so much I was in danger of going into a coma. Dreadfully dull book. Sorry John Hart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable characters, 27 Oct 2009
By 
Nicolas Doye "http://worldofnic.org" (Reading, Berks, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
The characters in this book are over-the-top and it's all a bit too macho. All the men are over 6ft. There's a lot of drinking and driving. And fisticuffs. The main female characters are definitely fantasies of the author, not real people in any way, shape or form. The amount of money the main character has (but it doesn't change him) is silly.

Why is Grace so "perfect"? She seems to be a shallow, self-centred brat, but no-one in the book thinks that.

For all that, it was a bit of a page turner. But it's unbelievable tosh, and I couldn't give a damn about anyone or anything in it, because they clearly couldn't exist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than i thought it would be..., 14 July 2009
By 
S. Glover "Mr G" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
I was about to get on a long haul flight, had no book and needed something. I judged a book by its cover. I do that alot. Sometimes the marketing men ge ti right, sometimes they don't.

This was a good solid and well constructed thriller, it lacked real atmosphere, but it had good characters, complex relationships and believable premises for all. The twists were pretty easy to spot for the seasoned thriller reader and the ending left me a little hollow and unsatisfied.

That said, i kept turning the pages and it entertained me on two flights (if not in between). I think Hart will improve and I will buy again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Up And Down River, 3 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. John Frank Herbert (Greenwich, London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Down River (Paperback)
This book has me utterly confused.
I loved the idea of a man returning home to old and new hostilities, and various characters are introduced to keep us guessing.
I found it difficult to keep the enthusiasm going and I don't know why, though I was curious to know who did what, when, where and why.

I was kind of held but only just. I found that much of the happenings were just little pockets of dialogue, but not enough meat on the bone to get me rushing back to find out more.

I guess in the end I was disappointed - and even the shock of who did it all just breezed past me without me gasping or gulping shock horror.

It's a 3 out of 5 book and many will enjoy it more than I did.
Opinions vary and that's what makes life interesting.
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Down River
Down River by John Hart (Paperback - 16 Jun 2008)
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