The friend who recommended John Hart's "Down River" said he reminded her of Pat Conroy. While Hart delivers a nice gothic murder mystery, complete with a complicated family history we've come to expect from Southern novelists, Hart's efforts don't measure up to Conroy's superior storytelling skills. I've think I've read everything Conroy has written (save the cookbook he did a while back), and I can say with some authority that John Hart is no Pat Conroy. That doesn' mean "Down River" is not a good book. I liked Hart's characters and family connections, but he has a way to go before he can stand with Conroy as a great writer.
Check out my review of "Down River" in an upcoming edition of your News-Telegram.