Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The River Is Dark (Liam Dempsey, #1)” as Want to Read:
The River Is Dark (Liam Dempsey, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The River Is Dark

(Liam Dempsey #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  6,303 ratings  ·  396 reviews
Ex-homicide detective Liam Dempsey is waiting to die.

His career, the only thing he ever knew how to do well, is over. The single solace each day brings is the ever-growing contemplation of suicide.

But when his estranged brother and sister-in-law are brutally murdered in their bucolic town set on the banks of the Mississippi River, he is drawn into an investigation surrou
Paperback, 223 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Black Spine Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The River Is Dark, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Quin can i put sause on the book to get that special zest of flavor
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,303 ratings  ·  396 reviews

Sort order
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
The story takes place along the banks of the Mississippi river. The story however does not travel at a snails pace. The book begins with you on the edge of your seat and it did not let up until the very end.

I did figure out where the story was going but it was still an enjoyable trip to get there. Hart's writing was that perfect blend of spooky and pulse racing.

Liam finds out that his estranged brother and his wife have both been brutally murdered. He agrees to come down and take care of all the
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book opens with an explosive beginning that you cannot stop reading even if you wanted to. This story had a little bit of everything in it, horror, crime, mystery, terror, romance and suspense throughout the story. This was a fast read since it was hard to put the book down and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. I thought I had the solved the (who and where was the killer?) mystery, but to my delight, my assumptions were wrong and how much better that the suspense had me on ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
The River is Dark opens to an explosively grim scene involving a child running from a monster. Immediately it's obvious the pace of Joe Hart's novel will move swiftly. Retired Detective Liam Dempsey goes to a Tallston, Minnesota after he receives news that his brother and sister in law have been brutally murdered. Their young son is in the hospital in critical condition fighting for his life.

Liam initially comes off as the damaged detective many characters seem to be nowadays. It almost makes yo
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: group-read, re-read
Liam Dempsey, a former detective, is called to his estranged brother's town after learning that his brother and sister in law were the second couple brutally murdered in a short period of time.

Liam's own life is in turmoil after a work incident leaves him wishing that he could end his own life--but the guilt renders him unable to allow himself such an escape. Going back to bury his older brother (who had hated him all of his life), Liam finds himself being asked by the town's sheriff to help sol
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime Thriller Fans
I am a recent convert to liking the writing of Joe Hart, this book did not let me down at all from what I expected it to be. A lot of crime books have a very similar plot and approach to them, I found The River Is Dark to be different. Much of the perspective (and the detective work) is being done by former homicide Detective, Liam Dempsey, rather than a massive focus on the police and it being a police procedural, it has more of a "private detective' approach.

In a small town along the Mississi
Pretty standard thriller from Hart about a man who returns to his hometown to deal with his estranged brother and sister-in-law's murders. Not much original here and filled with the usual cliches for the genre, but the characters are likable and the story does move along at a nice pace. I went in with low expectations which probably helped. One of those stories you forget pretty much right after you finish. Literary Chinese food. 2.5 stars bumped to 3 because, well, it didn't annoy me.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fast and furious one from Joe Hart. Not overly high on the originality scale and scattered with horror clichés, this one still managed to grab me from the beginning and Joe’s storytelling pulled me thru the rest of the way. This would make one hell of a movie.

Ex-Det. Liam Dempsey doesn't sleep well. His estranged brother Alan and his wife Suzie fall victim to a brutal home invasion murder. Now Liam must go back to the small town of Tallston to get his brothers affairs in order and try
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No longer a police detective, Liam Dempsey quickly sets out to investigate the barbaric murders of his brother and his sister-in-law when he gets a call from Special Agent Phelps informing him of the home invasion of his brother and sister-in-law in Tallston, Minnesota. When he arrives he learns his brother’s best friends were also murdered the day before. Liam’s nephew has survived and is in the hospital. When he is questioned he claims he saw the monster who killed his mother and father. Along ...more
Blake Crouch
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Liam Dempsey, the protagonist of The River is Dark, arrives in Tallston, Minnesota, a sleepy, scenic town on the banks of the Mississippi River. An ex-homicide detective, he’s come to investigate the grizzly murder of his estranged brother and his brother’s wife, and to set their affairs in order. But these murders are different. His family wasn’t just killed. They were literally torn apart, and their deaths are just the beginning of a rampage of violence that’s riding into town. Such is the set ...more
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Liam Dempsey, a former detective, is called to his estranged brother's town after learning that his brother and sister in law were the second couple brutally murdered in a short period of time.

Liam's own life is in turmoil after a work incident leaves him wishing that he could end his own life--but the guilt renders him unable to allow himself such an escape. Going back to bury his older brother (who had hated him all of his life), Liam finds himself being asked by the town's sheriff to help sol
Liam is an ex-detective who returns to his home town after his brother and his brothers wife are murdered in their home. Upon his arrival he and an old heartthrob, who has also come back to town for the funerals, start an investigation. The local sheriff enlists Liam's help to figure out who might be behind the murder of two separate couples in their homes, within a week of each other.

The murders were of such a gruesome nature that they are immediately thought to be of a personal nature. The on
Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin*
I enjoyed this thriller. It was fast-paced and kept me interested. The main character, a former detective, managed to avoid the usual clichés of the role: he was haunted by his past without being practically dysfunctional because of it, and he retained a sense of humor rather than turning into an incurable brooder.

A lot of times I have issues with the way male authors write female love interests (or just female characters in general), but in this case the author managed to do it in a way that wa
Thomas Strömquist
I've agonized over this review for quite a while now and decided that it was time to bite the bullet. My decision was to go strictly with the Goodreads definition of rating and therefore this one gets one star from me; "did not like it" - this should be interpreted as " I did not like it" and says absolutely nothing (as always, but seems to merit pointing out sometimes) about how someone else might feel about it.

(view spoiler)
Jon Recluse
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Review pending
3.5 stars

"The monster is killing my parents". (Eek!)
So Eric, a young boy hiding upstairs under a bed, tells the 911 operator while a horrific crime is committed in his home.
Meanwhile, miles away, former police detective Liam Dempsey wakes up to another day where his first thought is whether or not to use the gun in his closet. He's interrupted by a phone call informing him his brother & sister in law have been murdered in their home outside a small town in Minnesota. He & Allen had a co
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
****3.5 stars****
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
This book is weird and thus this review will be weird. Probably. It's hard to describe this book... I know. I know. I said I'd never try another Hart book but I needed something -- ANYTHING -- to get the memory of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea out of my mind (still need to write a review for that but can you see me cringing?)


This book isn't bad on the surface and the idea isn't bad. I don't even mind the premise and, while the monsters are rather uninspired and this seems to be
Trish R.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was a pretty good murder mystery. It involved a retired detective who had a whole lot of baggage when he got a call that his brother and sister-in-law had been murdered. So, now he had more problems, including his desire to use his service revolver on himself. I really wasn’t crazy about reading that. That makes me think our hero isn’t wrapped to tightly. But, when he got to the town where his brother had lived he ran into the girl that he’d danced with ten years before at his brother’s wed
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, kindle, net-galley
Liam is called to a small town on the Mississippi River when he learns that his brother and his wife have been killed. He learns that another couple had been found in similar circumstances. Although he is feeling very low at the moment he is leading the investigation into his estranged brothers murder.
A little boy holds the only clue- he’d made a terrified call saying that the monster was killing his parents. He is in a coma in the hospital.
This is a very fast paced thriller- will Liam become th
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
THE RIVER IS DARK is a traditional murder mystery told from the point of view of Liam. His brother and sister-in-law have just been killed leaving his nephew hospitalized. Two weeks prior, their best friends were brutally murdered. Why is the killer singling these people out? Are the murders going to continue?

When the town Sheriff gives Liam the go ahead to investigate on his own he finds out more than he ever expected about the small town doctor and his friends. Joe Hart keeps the secrets held
I received an arc copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!

Quite predictable and the writing was a little clinical at times, particularly at the beginning, but overall, I really did enjoy it. Fast paced and kept me turning the pages as the story unfolded. The characters were well developed and likeable, particularly Liam, Dani, and of course Ashes. If you like thriller/mysteries, it's worth the read.
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This was a good quick thriller. Joe Hart did a great job. Characters were detailed and the writing just grabbed your attention. Excellent!
Aug 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-review
ARC for review.

Liam Dempsey is a former cop (for all the normal former cop reasons) and he's feeling suicidal (for all the normal former cop reasons). When he hears about the murder of his estranged brother and his wife he feels obligated to go to the small town where his brother died and, naturally, becomes involved in the mystery.

Overall this was a perfectly serviceable thriller, if a bit standard (the re-appearing love interest, the local cops who miss everything). It gets extra points for b
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
Cringe-worthy cliches and plot holes abound in this "thriller" which was not actually all that thrilling since the killer's identity was easily guessed at. What saved it from 2 stars and a scathing review was the writing, which was pretty decent--the main character is well-developed and at times showed a glimmer of being more than just a depressed, self-pitying bore. Also, I was able to read it for free through Kindle Unlimited so I don't have a resentment about paying good money for it.
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a great read! The main protagonist, Liam Dempsey, is likeable, serious, realistic, and makes this a great book. All the characters are realistic. I plan to read book 2 in this series soon, and I know it will be engrossing and I will be unable to put it down, just like this one! Highly recommend.
Linda K. Melzer
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! Hard to put down!

I like Joe Hart's Liam Dempsey and I plan to read straight through to #2. There's enough gore and murder for every horror fan, without being over the edge for wusses like me. There is a delightful touch of romance and sex. The action is nonstop and I have to admit I didn't have a clue about the ending. Be sure to read it. You won't regret it!!
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The River Is Dark by Joe Hart is a highly recommended, fast paced thriller that will hold your attention right to the end.

The opening scene is of a frightened young boy trying to escape from a murderer. Then the action focuses on Liam Dempsey. Liam has just learned that his brother, Allen, and sister-in-law, Suzie, have been brutally murdered in the small town of Tollston, Minnesota where his physician brother had his medical practice. What he doesn't know until he arrives in Tollston is that an
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The river is dark, and the night isn’t something to swim in.”

I'm quite a fan of author Joe Hart. I've been on kind of a mini-readathon of some of his books and stories over the last few days. And this book is another fine example of WHY I'm spending my time doing this.

Liam Dempsey used to be a homicide detective. Now he's just a broken man trying to deal with his nightmares. And things ramp up when he gets a phone call that his brother and his brother's wife have both been murdered.

Dempsey head
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Montano
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm embarrassed to admit that prior to now I hadn't read any of Joe's work. I'm proud to say that after reading "The River is Dark", I'll be reading it again.

Liam is a former cop haunted by recent trauma. Drawn home by the brutal murder of his brother's family, Liam is soon embroiled in a dire small town mystery as he tries to track down a crazed killer before he strikes again.

Joe does a terrific job of taking familiar elements of the mystery/thriller and infusing them with new life, and on thos
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Rive Is Dark 1 6 Apr 23, 2017 09:34AM  
The Rive Is Dark 1 3 Apr 16, 2017 11:25AM  
  • Suffer
  • 3 Gates of the Dead
  • A Haunting in Oregon (The River #2)
  • Midnight Rain
  • Killing Matt Cooper
  • Z 2134: Episode 1
  • Blackwater Val
  • Idiot!
  • The Forgotten Girl
  • Slow Burning Lies
  • Strangewood
  • What We Left Behind (Z is for Zombie, #1)
  • Northwoods
  • Last Betrayal (Wayward Pines; The Genesis Series #2)
  • Catacombs of the Damned
  • The Buried (The Apostles, #2)
  • Malice
  • Kingdom Come (Elizabeth Harris Mystery #1)

Other books in the series

Liam Dempsey (2 books)
  • The Night is Deep (Liam Dempsey #2)
“There’s a weird hole left when one of your parents dies. I think it’s the fact that you’re always trying to live up to their expectations, whether good or bad, and when they’re gone, you realize you’re truly on your own. There’s no one else to answer to.” 3 likes
“about the plant going up in a small town like this?” 1 likes
More quotes…