Review: River Road by Carol Goodman

25111007Publication Date: January 19, 2016

When creative writing professor Nan Lewis drives back from a faculty party, she hits a deer. Sure, she was slightly tipsy, but it was fine. At least, that's what she thought.

Then the police show up at her house the next morning to tell her that one of her students was killed in a hit-and-run - and she's the main suspect.

There is no way she could have killed anyone, right? But the accident brings back memories of a similar case years ago.


Rating: ★ ★ ★  ★

Date Read: January 31, 2018

This caught my eye on Audible during one of their 2-for-1 sales in June. I thought it sounded interesting, so I bought it, but then never listened to it until I wanted something quick at the end of January.

The premise is pretty simple - woman gets set up for a murder she didn't commit but no one believes her because there is a ton of evidence that she could've been the killer. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that everyone has their secrets and some people are being completely unhelpful.

What I struggled with mostly was connecting to the characters. I didn't like any of them or think that they were relatable. The main character is a college professor and budding alcoholic with the tragic backstory. None of the men can really be trusted. A well-meaning cop might become more than a friend to someone. College students have secrets. It's all fairly generic, but the problem was that I didn't care about anyone or what they were going through.

The plot had one decent twist, but the rest were mostly just attempts to make the story longer. The book isn't even that long to begin with - 288 pages - but there were moments in which it felt like it was dragging too much. There were things that I thought could have been repeated less, left out, or written more concisely. Several scenes consisted of characters standing around and saying the same things over and over again.

Another thing that I really didn't like was the romance that emerged a little past the halfway point of the book. It didn't have a reason to exist and felt more like that author was making an excuse as to why the book needed to be longer. The romance had no value in the overall story, and it felt really stupid to reading about two characters having sex when people were literally dying. It also made no sense why they were attracted to each other, and they didn't do anything to improve each other's characters.

The only thing that was well done, I felt, was the ending. I didn't see it coming and was actually surprised by it. For something that I felt very meh about for several hours, it did a good job of making me second-guess what I thought was the ending. I have to say that it was pretty good for a book I had deemed to be rather lackluster. However, the ending wasn't enough to make me love the book or think it better than it was. While I didn't regret reading the book, it's not something that would make a favorites list or that I would recommend.

I stopped liking Nan Lewis pretty early on in the book as she slipped from sympathetic to pathetic rather quickly. I couldn't find anything likable about her after the first couple of chapters, and she became whiny as the book went on. She felt like someone we were supposed to relate to, but who kept proving that they weren't worth liking.

A lot of her co-workers were made out to be bad people, all while Nan was the supposed golden teacher who never did anything wrong. One colleague was too interested in his students, another was a gossip, and still another was too successful for Nan's liking. It felt like she was supposed to be the best of them all, but in trying to make her that way, the author caused all of the characters to fall flat.

The police officer (I don't remember his name) was annoying after the first few times he showed up. It was really obvious what his character was meant to be from the beginning, but I wasn't into that. I don't think the story would have suffered much if he was gone.

3.5 stars. Don't really think it's worth your time unless you want to see an example of a mystery that was less mystery and more about the lives of characters we don't really care about.

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