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Book Brief: Down River

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Down River
By John Hart
St. Martin’s
$7.99. 361 pp.
Three stars out of five



Adam Chase, the privileged scion of a wealthy family in Salisbury, North Carolina, left home five years ago under a cloud – a big cloud. A young man was murdered near the family home, and Adam's step-mother said he was the one responsible. She even testified for the prosecution at his murder trial. Although he was found not guilty, the small town scrutiny was more than he could stand, so he fled to New York City.

Now, Adam’s headed south, pulled back by a desperate phone call from Danny Faith, his boyhood friend.

Almost as soon as Adam hits the city limits, things begin to unravel.

Danny is nowhere to be found. Adam is beaten bloody by some really unsavory characters. His former girlfriend, a member of the local police force, seems to harbor doubts about his innocence. A teenage girl is brutalized right after she and Adam are seen having a heated argument.

All the problems are finally resolved, of course, but the author sure puts a lot of red herrings on the table before serving up the bad guy and revealing the deep, dark secrets of the Chase family.

Some critics have compared Hart to Pat Conroy, author of classics like “The Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides” and “Beach Music.”


Hart might be able to tell complicated stories about Southern families, and while I like his style, he has a long way to go before he can stand with Conroy.





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