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River of Darkness by Rennie Airth
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's review
Dec 04, 09

bookshelves: mysterycrime, more-by
Read in December, 2009

Police procedural set during the beginning of the interwar period. A house full of people in a bucolic English estate are found slaughtered, with a shocked little girl the only survivor. The investigative team: the solemn DI John Madden, widower and veteran of the Somme, his supportive chief Sinclair, the green and overeager constable Billy Styles, etc.

I enjoyed this a lot. Plot is well constructed (though I could have done with a one or two fewer scene shifts and elimination of the whole Sampson subplot) and satisfying descriptions. For example, the killer is described in this manner:

"His movements were precise and, like all his physical actions, governed by a sense of economy and order. This pattern of behaviour had been acquired at an early age and was the result of an event in his life so catastrophic he had only been able to continue his existence by recourse to a system of interlocking disciplines that guaranteed him control over every waking moment."

Yes, you find out what the catastrophic event is, but not till the end. Disturbing and suspenseful, with comforting aspects as well, oddly enough.

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