I basically skimmed/read this book in day. It's short, and it's mostly in comicbook form. It had its interesting moments. Batman is probably my favoriI basically skimmed/read this book in day. It's short, and it's mostly in comicbook form. It had its interesting moments. Batman is probably my favorite superhero (though, okay, yes, he doesn't really have superpowers, just training, wits and gadgets, and a really tragic backstory to fall back on), but I have to say I have no experience reading comicbooks (just manga). My interest in this book sprung out of researching an animated Batman TV show from the 1990s, "Batman: The Animated Series", one that I had watched and enjoyed then and am buying on DVD now. One of the components that made the show great then and now was the style of animation coupled with the grim, dreary backgrounds of Gotham City. (During the fourth season, the characters became more stylized, which was a little unsettling.) Anyway, this a great book to check out for fans of Batman. ...more
**spoiler alert** After 100 pages, I can't stomach reading anymore of this. I am so disappointed, especially because I love Carol Goodman's usual "atm**spoiler alert** After 100 pages, I can't stomach reading anymore of this. I am so disappointed, especially because I love Carol Goodman's usual "atmospheric thrillers", and I had been excited to see she had written another mystery. (I understand as of recently she has been writing romance novels and young adult series, neither of which I've read.) I even bought it as a hardcover, which I rarely ever do because hardcovers are so much more expensive than paperbacks.
Anyway, I found this novel to be lacking all of the usual things I have loved in Goodman's previous novels, such as "The Ghost Orchid", "The Seduction of Water", "Arcadia Falls", "The Night Villa" and "The Drowning Tree"—a strong female character, an inevitable attraction, a dark past/secret, a suspenseful atmosphere. On the surface, "River Road" does appear to have these things, but the unbelievable as actually human stock characters pull the whole narrative down, as does the specter of the narrator's daughter, killed on the same road as the latest victim. Nan, the narrator, is a drunk in extreme denial, though it's almost hard to fault her since her daughter was killed—except that it was a drunk driving accident, and the narrator decides to stay in the house right on this road where her daughter died. I found that hard enough to buy, so trying to swallow the implication of Nan craving the same brand of bourbon that was found in the car of the woman who killed her daughter seems like utter crap. Just the fact that she drinks bourbon at all feels like utter crap.
And who says "Poor [insert character name here]" to a character's face? "Poor Nan," says both Dottie and Cressida. It rang so false.
The other characters also came off as so fake to me: Dottie (the mothering, gossiping type), Ross (the former flame, the other drunk, the seductive professor who may have been having an affair with students), Cressida (WTF kind of name is that, btw? the way-too-good-to-be-true best friend and perfect teacher), McAffraty (the cop and obvious love interest), Leia (the most perfect student and person until her horrible death), Nan's ridiculous family. The whole novel appeared cartoonish and comical when it was supposed to be serious and somber (but not sober, of course). Nan's constant repetiton in the beginning that she "Hit a deer! It was deer, officer!!!! A deer!!!!" and "Well, I wasn't drunk! I wasn't!!!! I only had two glasses of wine!!! It was a deer!" and then everything she did to make it worse with the cop, Ross, Dottie, the entire student body—it was laughable. I just kept thinking, "What a dumb-ass! This woman is a teacher? At a college? Why is she such a moron?" (Cue a reminder of her dead daughter and her craving for alcohol.)
As a stylistic choice, I was bothered by all the dashes which ended several paragraphs. I wasn't sure why so many were necessary; perhaps her editor told her to cool it with ellipses and this was a second choice. Was the point of so many to reflect how many sharp, long pauses the narrator needed to collect her drunken thoughts? It was overkill.
I skimmed the rest because I couldn't really take reading any more. I'm not sure what Ross was up to with all his creepy, suspicious behavior, but he was apparently not the killer. I won't spoil who the killer was for anyone who can actually make it through this novel.
I'm disappointed, a little angry and feeling cheated by "River Road". It's subpar, and not up to the excellent standards (in my own opinion) of the Goodman books mentioned above. "The Ghost Orchid" is one of my favorite books, and after reading it I went out and bought her three other novels that were out at the time: "The Lake of Dead Languages" (the one I found the weakest of the bunch), "The Seduction of Water" and "The Drowning Tree" (both which I loved immensely). I have yet to read "The Sonnet Lover" but am really holding the hope that it's a million times better than this absolute stinker "River Road".