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In this dark, gripping mystery, a brutal murder unearths old secrets that should have stayed buried.

A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.

The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca's quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface - memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who's watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he's more predator than protector.

In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca's life - or end it.

302 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 1, 2018

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About the author

Karen Katchur

6 books571 followers
Karen Katchur is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of RIVER BODIES and the Northampton County series. She holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master's in education. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. For more information visit: www.karenkatchur.com

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 638 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,424 reviews35.2k followers
November 24, 2018
3.5 stars rounded up to a 4

Becca Kingsley has returned to her hometown after being away for ten years; although she wasn't too far away, she was just across the river. When she receives word that her estranged father is dying, she returns home, mainly for some time away from the troubles in her personal life, but also to say goodbye. Returning home always brings back memories as does contact with those from our past. When Becca returns home, she remembers why she has not returned, becomes reacquainted with those she left behind and walks into a police investigation.

A body has washed up- a body that reminds the local authorities of a cold case and a victim that was killed in the same manner. Becca's father was once the Police Chief and her childhood friend, Parker is now the lead detective on the case. The murders, both past and present, open old wounds, bring forth memories, and question loyalties of various characters in the book.

I agree with other reviewers who point out that this book is more about relationships, family dynamics, and loyalty more than it is a thriller. As a reader we know more than some of the characters in the book. We are shown various POV's that give us insight and tell us what happened. Yes, there is some mystery here but for me it was about Becca and her relationships with others. We also see several other characters, such as John and Parker and their relationships with others as well.

This book also examines loyalty. The choices people make to protect others. A choice a parent might make to protect their child. The choice a member of a group may make to protect the group and to show loyalty. The loyalty (or lack thereof) in intimate relationships. The book looks at what people do to survive and how turning a blind eye happens in the name of survival.

I enjoyed the writing and the descriptions in the book. The Author sets the stage for small town life in Pennsylvania near the Delaware river. I found the book to be a fast read but it did leave me wanting more. Maybe I missed something, but I do not feel I was given the reason for the first murder. If I missed it, then that is one me. I wanted more of the rationale and reasons for why one character did things. We do get some explanation and things do make sense, but I also feel there were some gaps in the plot. There was a couple of characters that I wished had been fleshed out a little more. The book is dubbed a mystery, a suspenseful thriller, etc. I feel it would do better if it were marked as a character study on relationships. If you are looking for a book heavy on mystery and suspense, this may let you down a little. I did appreciate how the Author showed how Becca remembered some buried memories, the mystery in the book was really for her to come to an understanding about her childhood, her past, why her father made the choices he did and why she grew up to repeat some patterns she witnessed in her youth.

This is the first book in a series and I believe that the characters will be fleshed out more in the next book. Overall this was an enjoyable read that although did not have me on the edge of my seat, I was intrigued and wanted to see how the book was going to end. The Author drew me in with her descriptions and hints at buried secrets. I found this book to be on the lighter side. For me it was not a heavy book, the reader knows whodunit, so there is not much need to do any detective work while reading, it was nice to kick back and enjoy the book. For some there might be a scene or two that is a little cringe worthy but otherwise the book dealt with the characters and their secrets.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer, goodreads and Amazon for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,724 followers
August 3, 2022
I received River Bodies, a new novel written by Karen Katchur coming out in fall 2018, through NetGalley. Besides having a gorgeous cover and an interesting title, the premise was intriguing enough for me to say yes when the publisher offered it. I'm glad I did as it had a wonderful balance of mystery and good old-fashioned storytelling.

The book is told from the perspective of several different characters across a county on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey border. Bodies have been found over several years in the river. It's widely known that Scion 'gang' are responsible, but it's not always what it seems. Two different chiefs of police, daughters of various members, step-families, affairs, and mysterious connections lurk in the background. It's quite a puzzle, and you're never sure who is protecting whom.

The writing style is strong. It is very descriptive but never too much. I feel like I know the area well (I also lived not too far from it and understand many references, e.g. shootings in Easton). It's the type of book where I enjoyed the read but didn't care for the characters. They were well-written, but as people none were appealing given how they talked or what they believed in. At the same time, it's a very real part of society and deserves a spotlight. It showcases how different experiences and areas to live in shape who we are. Surviving is tough when you have less support from those around you. Katchur brilliantly shows these aspects and helps you connect with someone you might not normally be around. It sounds odd to say it in this way, but it's the best way to describe how I felt while reading the book. Example: sworn oaths to protect and kill for the sake of the group, an eye for an eye, revenge even if you get caught... it happens in reality!

Kudos to the author and thanks to the publisher for sending the book to me. I'd definitely read more from Katchur and would recommend this book to others.
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,289 reviews150 followers
October 28, 2018
Becca returns to her hometown of Portland, Pennsylvania, to be with her dying father. Becca has been living just across the river in New Jersey, but hasn't been back to Portland to visit her father or old friends for 10 years. Her arrival in town coincides with a murder that is very similar to an unsolved murder that occurred 20 years earlier in the same town. Becca's old friend Parker, who is now a detective, works to uncover who is behind the deaths. Meanwhile, Becca confronts old secrets in her and her father's pasts.

Different viewpoints are used to tell the story, but Becca is the main character, and most of the story revolves around her. Becca is in a relationship with a man she has doubts about, she is estranged from her father, and she misses her old best friend Parker.

Becca's father is on his deathbed, but he was once the police chief in Portland. The law enforcement in town has a delicate relationship with the town biker gang, the Scions. When Becca's father was police chief, his stepbrother was the leader of the Scions. The stepbrother is now deceased and there is a new police chief, but old loyalties still remain, though some secrets are difficult to contain.

This is a mystery because of the murders, but it's also a story about relationships. The descriptions of the area, the people, and the lifestyles are very well done. The characters are not particularly likable, but they are real. While the story does not have a lot of action, the various relationships between the characters is gripping.

This was my pick for Amazon's First Reads in October 2018.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,569 reviews507 followers
April 28, 2019
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

River Bodies by Karen Katchur was a slow burn of a novel that I didn't consider a mystery or a thriller, but I still enjoyed it.

What it's about: Becca Kingsley's dad was the chief of police in Portland, Pennsylvania for many years, but now he is retired and dying. Even though she is estranged from him, when she gets the call that he is nearing the end Becca goes home to be with him. While she is home, a body washes up from the Delaware River and the murder looks a lot like a cold case from years before. The lead detective on the case, Parker, also happens to have been Becca's best friend before she was sent away by her father. Old romances burn again, and the case for Parker to solve the murder begins, while at the same time buried memories from Becca's past begin to resurface. A lot of which have to do with the man, John, that has been watching her...

It all sounds very mysterious but you basically already know who the killer is, even though you do get a twist thrown at you towards the end. I liked the pacing of the book and it was a fast read, but I didn't get thriller out of it. I was at no point on the edge of my seat while reading this, and even the secrets from Becca's past aren't all that shocking. I also thought there were some unanswered questions that bothered me, but maybe the author meant to do that since this book is the first of a series.

River Bodies is also part police procedural as we get the viewpoint of Parker as he is trying to solve the murder and figure out how it ties to the cold case. The small-town mentality was interesting to read about, especially when it came to the biker gang presiding over the town - The Scions. Townspeople don't want to talk, there are dirty cops, and there is a general sense of fear over the townspeople.

I think that Katchur did a really good job at setting the scene and the characters, but maybe there were too many viewpoints? I really disliked that there wasn't much of a mystery to it when that is what I was expecting. Then why did I give it a 4/5? Because the pacing is quick, I read it fast, I was fully invested in the story even though I didn't think the mystery was great, and the ending has me wanting to read the second book.

Final Thought: I cannot stress enough the fact that I don't think this is a thriller or much of a mystery, BUT it kept me interested and I liked the bit of police procedural. I also really felt for Becca and teared up at the stuff with her father. There is a great story here, but I wouldn't go in with any sort of expectations on what kind of book it is supposed to be. I didn't read the blurb again before I read it, so I went in with an open mind trying not to set any expectations and I think that worked for me. I do have to say that I think Katchur's writing style is very fluid and detailed, which really brought the story alive for me. There is also a tiny bit of gore, but nothing too crazy.

I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,944 reviews1,898 followers
October 31, 2018
Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up within a genre, so many times I’m craving a fast paced and exciting thriller with twists and turns galore and then other times I’m in the mood for a really well written slow burn, and River Bodies fits the bill perfectly. It’s funny because the pacing itself wasn’t even slow at all, but the writing style and the way the story unfolded was more subdued so it was almost a mix between the two. Either way it worked well for me and was an intriguing read.
This was character driven and really focused on the relationship between Becca and her estranged father, but also between Becca and her longtime boyfriend as well. Besides Becca you also hear from Parker giving it a subtle police procedural vibe and then John, a local outlaw who is part of a biker gang. All three were complicated and interesting and I just saw on Goodreads that this is the first book in a new series with the next installment set to be released next summer!
I’m a sucker for old cases and new ones colliding and there was plenty of that here. Throw in some fantastic and evocative writing and a tricky mystery and I was all in. Recommended for those looking for a rich, character driven story with a great setting and a few surprises along the way.
River Bodies in three words: Subtle, Layered and Engrossing.
Overall rating: 4/5
Profile Image for Dee Arr.
734 reviews90 followers
October 1, 2018
Listed as a thriller, “River Bodies” beckoned with all the usual temptations the genre offers. I hoped that author Karen Katchur would deliver more than the same tired clichés that normally accompany a book about returning to the old home town during a murder investigation.

It wasn’t the writing style that caused me to lose connection with the book. Ms. Katchur delivers in this area, serving up a prose that describes as well as illuminates, peppering her words with images that at times felt more than real. This is her five-star element.

Rather, it was the inconsistencies in the plot elements that caused questions to form and to drag me out of the book each time one of them appeared. Our heroine Becca lives just across the river from her home town, close enough that she can identify minute clothing details of someone standing on the other side. While I might be able to accept that she had reasons never to return home (even with it being so close), that didn’t excuse the fact that while she wouldn’t cross the river’s bridge, many others living in the town probably would. However, no one had seen her for years (except for her cousin John, who she “met” regularly when she spotted him on the other side of the river.

The small town of Portland is home to not one, but possibly two decent-sized (more than twenty-five) motorcycle gangs. Possible, but not probable, and with the closest large city hours away, the probability is further reduced. There are more inconsistencies, but I hesitate to list them all without revealing portions of the plot.

Characterizations were good, providing enough background to justify each character’s actions. Everyone, that is, except for the killer. After establishing justification for the most recent killing, the killer’s reasoning abruptly changed, and it didn’t fit with some of the other important scenes in the book. This flaw was large enough to leave me shaking my head during the last part of the story.

Overall, good story and a wonderful writing style, with Ms. Katchur deftly switching between past and current events, slowly revealing bits and pieces until the entire tale is laid out in front of us. Some of the plot elements were ragged, pulling the story down from potential heights of greatness into something that is still better than many of today’s offerings. Three-and-a-half stars.
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,683 reviews376 followers
February 21, 2020
Check out my Q&A Elevator Ride with Karen Katchur.

Learn the inspiration behind this "standout" new thriller series and some fun and interesting facts about the author. (Thanks to Karen, FUN FUN).

An emotionally resonant tale of fury, tragedy, guilt, and redemption.

The first in this exciting new series: Northampton County —A page-turning, psychologically rich, both "character and plot-driven," a gritty multi-generational, complex suspense thriller of two brutal crimes twenty-years-apart.

The past and present connect when a murder investigation with the same MO reconnects old childhood acquaintances and estranged parents, while dark family secrets threaten to destroy present lives.

Talented suspense novelist, Karen Katchur returns following The Sisters of Blue Mountain and The Secrets of Lake Road with her latest novel RIVER BODIES

Taut prose, flawed characters, and a dark side that weaves through the lives of the small towns of Northampton County, with the introduction of this new bold series. The author creates a strong sense of place, positioning itself ideally for the setting of this intriguing new series, leaving readers anxiously awaiting the next addition.

An edgy, intense, deep and darkly compelling psychological suspense “whydunit” thriller with plenty of attention to detail. Katchur skillfully explores the frightening and gut-wrenching mental state of each character. The journey from past to present, the traumas and fears are bringing them to the present nightmare as they confront their monsters.

Set in the small rural town of Portland, Pennsylvania, in the autumn season, alongside the Delaware River banks with small connecting towns in Northampton County: Pennsylvania and the Jersey side.

Becca Kingsley was born here, the daughter of the controlling and demanding police chief, Clint. Her childhood does not hold fond memories. Becca is now a grown woman, age thirty, single, and living with Matt, a patent attorney who is cheating on her. She is a runner, a veterinarian, and the owner of Romy, her faithful and much-loved German Shepherd. Her practice is in Columbia, NJ, not far from her hometown.

She has always loved animals. They were of comfort to her during her turbulent childhood—a demanding father, a womanizer, and never faithful to her mom, which he drove away. Years ago, a scared child, she stumbled upon something that frightened her. She happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. She tried to tell her dad, but he instructed her never to speak of this again. She carried this secret and buried it deep in her mind.

Did her father send her away to protect her from harm? She did not know why. She never understood. Her mom and dad separated. Now her dad is dying. They are estranged. Her mom thinks she should visit him before he passes.

Could her dad hold the secret to the murder long ago and the one in the present?

John Jackson (very complicated) was older than her by fifteen years. He had been a part of her childhood. John’s dad Russell was a stepbrother to her dad, Clint. John had a troubled youth as well. He is a hunter.

His dad was part of a motorcycle club (gang) called the Scions. His dad had no patience for mistakes and no tolerance for the cowardly. John had no children, and his late wife, Beth, died of cancer three years earlier. Two stepbrothers on different sides of the law.

John had taken an oath to the club twenty years ago, and if there was one rule he lived by, the rule his old man, Russell had drilled into him ever since he was a small boy. It was that he put the club before himself, always, even if it meant giving his life. Now John answers to his father’s buddy Hap. John is a product of his environment.

Could he have been a different person without his father’s influence?

Detective Parker Reed is a State Police homicide investigator who works cases throughout Northampton County. He is from Portland, and he and Becca were childhood sweethearts. Now in charge of the current case, and recalls the twenty-year-old case from previous years when he was a child.

Will he be able to solve the crime before there is more collateral damage?

The Crime
Twenty years ago, there was an unsolved murder of a man. When the man’s body is pulled from the Delaware River, he had been shot, gutted, and field dressed as a deer. Now there is a similar murder. Could it possibly the same murderer? A copycat? What is the motive?

Becca, John, Parker, and Clint are connected to the murder. How? The past refuses to remain buried.

The Present
Becca has been summoned to her hometown. Her dad is dying. He has a lady friend, Jackie. Becca swore she would never return. She had never understood her father’s reasons for doing the things he had done. Her father did not like John, nor did he get along with John’s father Russell, his stepbrother.

Filled with dread and fear when she returns, she happens to be a part of the new crime once again. Will the new crime bring back the memories she has kept hidden for years and reopen old wounds? Could she be in danger? Does she know too much?

Why was this brutal murder so violent? What would make a person skin a human as an animal? Do humans repeat learned behavior?

There is much to love here! Karen takes us below the surface of the human psyche. Good versus evil. With literary prose, there is a constant pull between fear, danger, protection, and love. Water, the river, the woods, and nature can be beautiful, but at the same time, it can be dangerous, as with animals and humans (we find here).

Topics and Themes
A twisty, unsettling, yet captivating thriller explores the relationships between fathers and daughters, and fathers and sons. Highly charged topics: psychological, repressed memories, secrets, fear, parents’ effect on a child’s behavior, as well and marital relationships, infidelity, narcissism, violence, forgiveness, fear, control, protection, old loves, love of animals, betrayal, friendship, love, loss, cancer, and grief plus more.

Whydunit versus Whodunit
As with all her books, the author skillfully explores powerful, complex, and high-charged topics and emotions. The intricacies of parent-child relationships and family dynamics. I enjoy the intriguing tie in with animals, nature, and the rich settings in her books as well as the "whydunit," versus the "whodunit."

A type of detective story in which the focus is not on who committed the crime, but what were their motives for committing it. I love her book covers and her keen sense of place with her bold and alluring settings that draw you in.

For Fans of
For those fans of true-crime, families are torn apart by secrets of the past. Why? This is the ongoing question and the focus of RIVER BODIES. The author delivers a complex and gripping standout thriller! Written from different points of view and time periods, readers will be glued to the pages —anxiously awaiting the next in this riveting series.

Perfect for crime fans of Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, Gilly MacMillan, and Lisa Unger with a mix of emotional domestic suspense/literary of Heather Gudenkauf, Mary Kubica, Randall Silvis, Diane Chamberlain, and T. Greenwood.

RIVER BODIES is prime for the big or small screen! (fingers crossed). Gripping, unsettling, and atmospheric.

Highly Recommend!
Katchur has outdone herself, and River Bodies is her best yet! The author knows how to write gripping suspense while also delving deep into her characters’ minds and the darker parts of the human psyche, drawing on her background in criminal justice. A dark and twisted well-researched multi-generational tale with a meticulously-woven plot, multi-layered complex characters, with psychological depth. A “must-read” new series. An ideal selection for book clubs and further discussions. 5 Stars + Top Books of 2018 list.

One of my favorite interviews. Join me Nov 1:
• A Q&A with Karen Katchur: The inspiration behind the novel
• Ten Facts about RIVER BODIES
• An Elevator Ride with Fun Facts about the Author.
A quick teaser from the author (much more to come)

“When I was a young girl, I remember hearing about a man’s body that was pulled from the river. He was gutted like one would field dress a deer. I wanted to know why. Why this type of crime? Why this specific injury? My inspiration for the story came from a mix of curiosity and fear.”

Readers, you are in for a treat, Cold Bones #2 Northampton County is coming 2019 with more from Detective Parker Reed and his new partner Geena Brassard. Looking forward to learning about his past. Cannot wait!

If you have not read Karen's previous books, highly recommend! Read my reviews here:



Highly recommend the hardcover. The jacket is beautiful!
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,880 reviews1,644 followers
June 6, 2019
4.5 Stars

Becca Kingsley returns to her hometown after many years. Her father, who was once Police Chief, is dying. She has mixed feelings about her father ... he wasn't always the nicest person she knew and he was a serial cheater and didn't much care who knew.

Becca's been living with Matt for 5 years .... and like her father, he is a serial cheater. Becca takes this opportunity to spend whatever time she can with her father and think about her relationship with Matt.

Just to muddy things even further, Parker Reed, is now a Homicide Detective .. and Becca's first love when they were teenagers.

Throw in a recent murder that is eerily exactly like that of another murder 20 years ago ... and somehow all things point to things that Becca might know. Coming home has brought something menacing to the surface—memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.

RIVER BODIES is an excellent mix a small town murder mystery and a heavy dose of relationships of a diverse nature.

It's well written with alternating chapters of Becca's childhood and the things that are happening to her now. The suspense is slow and steady and heats up with the more she remembers ... leading to an unsuspected, but satisfying ending.

Many thanks to the author / Thomas & Mercer / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,158 followers
December 5, 2018
The story of a young woman returning to the town where she grew up to spend time with her dying father and who is forced to return to the deep-dug memories is well conceived and easy to follow. A murder is committed which resembles a similar one that happened when Becca was a child and now she has to identify the true nature of a person she considered to be her protector. Apart from the plot, I enjoyed reading about Portland, a small town where loyalty goes first. The Author knows how to depict the atmosphere of such places. For me, it was not a page-turner, however I do not regret time spent reading this title.

*Many thanks to Karen Katchur, Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for providing me with ARC in exchange foe my honest review.*
Profile Image for Jamie Rosenblit.
945 reviews532 followers
October 30, 2018
Secrets that span generations take the forefront in Katchur’s debut, River Bodies, and nearly 20 years apart, dead bodies are found with alarming similarities. In a town where motorcycle gangs have police on their payroll and the lines are seemingly blurred between the good guys and the bad guys, lies Becca, the daughter of the former police chief who has returned home to spend the final days of her father’s life with him. For fans of Allen Eskens, those who enjoy a slow burn with a lot of character development over action and old secrets coming to light, this one is the book for you!

I received an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Dana-Adriana B..
649 reviews273 followers
December 1, 2018
In the small town of Portland, a body is found. The crime is similar with a cold case from twenty years back.. nice thriller, I couldn't let it go.
Thanks Netgalley for this thrilling story, the first book from Northampton County series.
Profile Image for Sherri Thacker.
1,306 reviews268 followers
November 26, 2018
This book grabbed me from the very first page and kept me highly on the edge of my seat. Lots of dark secrets throughout the book leading to the twist at the end. I liked how the author put in her many details along the way. It’s a quick read and I read it in 2 days.
Profile Image for Linda .
1,820 reviews266 followers
January 12, 2020
Not Quite 4 Stars

I enjoyed River Bodies. In several ways it reminded me of Kendra Elliot’s Mercy Kilpatrick series: citizens on the periphery of the US government. Men deciding what is right and wrong and living by those decisions, whether they are correct or not. A neighbor affected by his long-dead father, someone who earned my empathy. A former chief of police who made bad choices. A daughter picking up the pieces and learning to trust again.

Karen Katchur blended the past and present. The main protagonist, Becca Kingsley, witnessed an incident in her childhood. Her father convinced her to forget it. And as we all know, when you bury something so deep in your consciousness it is bound to resurface.

In addition to this, Becca’s childhood was a confusing part of her life. It affected her as a grownup with personal relationships. Why she chose her career: a veterinarian. And insecurities that continually had her flashing to the past. In many ways, this back and forth push and pull worked but it also dredged up questions.

I had to remove one star for the romantic subplot. I found Parker as dry. His character was two-dimensional. I wanted more of his POV. I had numerous questions about their behavior as teenagers and his feelings as an adult.

I finished this story in less than 24 hours, something I haven’t done in a long time. I found closure with the murders but the ending left open another visit to Portland. I only hope that I will see more of Becca and get inside Parker’s head in Cold Woods.
Profile Image for Michelle.
653 reviews182 followers
January 4, 2021
A body washes up in a remote area of Pennsylvania. The man has been murdered. Shot. That's alarming but what is most chilling is the discovery of the rest of his body. Dressed as it were a deer kill. This is the second body to be found along the river. The first was many years ago when Becca was a teenage girl.

When Becca returns home it rekindles both memories and feelings. Can she reconcile with her father? Will the secrets of the past hinder her romance with her old flame? More importantly and of more pressing concern, will her memories and her father's secrets put her very life in danger?
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
825 reviews153 followers
May 2, 2019
Trigger warning :

I’m really struggling with this book as a whole; I’m not sure how I feel about it. It has some great things going on for it but mystery wise, it’s so boring and disappointing. It was also so different from what I expected but I could’ve worked with that had it been intriguing but in this case, the book ended and I was left with this hollow feeling that I wanted more than what I got.

In this dark, gripping mystery, a brutal murder unearths old secrets that should have stayed buried

Well, the mystery in this book is a many of things but Gripping and dark it isn’t. Right from the first chapters, The authors reveals everything that has to do with the murder that stars the book, we know right from the start how it happens, who did and the reasons behind it. I don’t know how mysteries work for other people but if you reveal to me from the beginning whodunit and whydunit, the mystery is no more. The only thing that was left is for the detective, one of the main characters to catch up to the readers.

But the book still has one of the best characters dynamics I’ve seen in a mystery book. First of all, the characters are written very well, they are complex, they have history and the motivations behind their actions are understandable most of times. The dynamics between the main characters is heavy and filled with shared history and emotions. It’s really fascinating and intriguing to read about.

Writhing, knotting, tangling with the anger at her core. And buried far below all these emotions, there was something else, something that made her heart ache

I also loved how the book portrayed the way family can really impact our choices as adults and how sometimes the pain of the past and its broken relationships can drive people to put themselves in hurtful situations.

Like I said, the book has so many complex characters with great dynamics and emotional ties but the mystery is just flat and boring and it made reading the book insufferable at times. If you’re someone that prefers characters development over plot then this book is definitely for you. But if you’re someone who prefers the mystery to be wild and unpredictable, you’ll be sorely disappointed in this one.


Reading this book for O.W.L.'s MAGICAL READATHON which is a Harry Potter Readathon that takes place in the whole month of April and I chose this book for My "Defence Against The Dark Arts" Exam
Profile Image for Aria.
130 reviews11 followers
September 19, 2019
This was the "Thriller" selection for Amazon's October First Reads books. I'm not quite sure when the thrill was supposed to set in. This book is about a motorcycle gang, the daughter of a police chief, corruption, murders and yet it was predictable and a bit boring. There was no mystery as to who committed the murders and the characters were bland. The plot had promise, as all plots with repressed memories do but this one fell short.
Profile Image for Hannah McKinnon.
Author 10 books1,414 followers
February 1, 2018
RIVER BODIES is a dark, fast-paced, and gripping suspense with characters you won’t forget. It’s filled with old family secrets designed to protect but that instead pull everyone apart. A must read!
Profile Image for TJ.
980 reviews119 followers
December 2, 2018
2.5 stars

This book confused my feelings in all sorts of ways! First off if there was one word I could use to describe how this book made me feel it will be melancholy. But don't get me wrong I was totally engaged and the writing was so good. But the real question is did I like it? I did and yet I didn't... Like I said it was a good book but it just downright depressed me. I also felt disconnected from the characters. Actually, I felt disconnected from the whole book. Yet again engaging read... There are just some books that you can't explain with words and for me River Bodies is one of those books.

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Profile Image for Christina McDonald.
Author 10 books2,555 followers
October 20, 2018
River Bodies is a compelling and dark mystery that shifts from a present day murder to one that happened 20 years ago. The setting is vivid and evocative, the forest and the river lending a fantastic atmosphere to the story.

When Becca catches her boyfriend cheating on her, she returns home to take care of her terminally ill father, whom she’s been estranged from since he sent her away when she was young. While she’s taking care of her father, a murder takes place near her town that has eerie similarities to one that happened 20 years ago. The story isn’t really a whodunnit, as we already know who did it. It is an intricate exploration of how the murders – past and present – affect one family.

I especially loved the emotional journey and the character development of Becca. Her internal and external journey were very detailed and completely believable. This book is for all you who love a medium-paced thriller with rich character development and an evocative atmosphere. I highly recommend!
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,095 reviews665 followers
November 1, 2018
The tale started out slowly for me, and I almost set it down. Becca Kingsley lives on the New Jersey side of the river with her boyfriend just minutes from the animal clinic where she works as a veterinarian. As she makes her morning run along the river, she feels as if someone is watching her. It’s a man she knew as a child. He often watches her, but today he is down by the river and something looks strange. 

Becca has other things on her mind, like that the fact that her boyfriend is cheating on her again. A phone call soon sets this matter aside as Becca learns her estranged father is dying and asking for her. Becca soon finds herself back in Portland, in her childhood home  (just across the river). The tale that unfolds brings back buried memories, re-acquaints her with her childhood crush and unknowingly places her in danger.

I didn’t have a sure footing in the beginning of this tale and worried I would not like Becca. I loathe cheaters and struggled to understand women who deal with them. Thankfully, we quickly moved on to her father dying and a current murder-mystery that is strikingly similar to an unsolved case.

Katcher provides us with Becca’s point of view and that of the killer. We are also privy to the past as Becca reflects and remembers events from her youth.

The town is home to a motorcycle gang known as the Scion. The townsfolk sidestep them, and at one time their leader, was the chief-of-police (Becca’s father). Becca’s Dad has since retired but holds secrets. It was an interesting tale, with a love interest, troubled childhood, and character growth.  Secrets and repressed memories resurface providing suspenseful moments. 

Becca’s childhood friend and teen crush, Parker, is now a homicide detective and lead on the present day murder. He also looks back at the original murder. Both were gruesome, and forensic shows a unique signature for the killer.

Fans of murder-mysteries and thrillers will find themselves caught up in River Bodies. By the 30% mark I was all in and I am happy I stayed with it. The twists and climatic ending delivered. This is the first in a series, and I am curious to see how Becca will be involved if at all. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
18 reviews
July 20, 2019
The book was a quick easy read, but there were so many plot holes that it got to be painful. I was disappointed at the underdevelopment of characters and motives.
Profile Image for Seth.
32 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2018
Well, I have a hard time saying anything positive about this story as I feel like this whole book has been plagiarized from the great TV show “Sons of Anarchy.” Basically every character is from the TV show with different names. It is completely appalling that this has been allowed to happen. I will list all the things stolen from the TV show.
1. Father figure who was lead member of Motorcycle club (MC)
2. Son who is reluctant to take fathers place as the head of that same MC
3. Son who finds peace when working on his late fathers bike and subsequently riding it.
4. The son kills the man who took over as the head of the MC after his father died.
5. When cops finally come for the son, he kills himself instead of being taken in.
6. Idealistic cop who grew up in the town and is trying with all his might to catch one of the club members in a crime
7. Girl who grew up in the town and around the MC who then leaves the town to pursue a medical career only to come back home as a mature adult ready to face the truth
8. A corrupt police chief who covers evidence and then gets cancer and dies
9. A town that sort of ignores the violence from the MC because of the benefits it brings.
10. The MC runs illegal guns
11. A new chief of police who is reluctantly backed into a corner and had to break the law to help the MC

Then there is the whole issue with the name of the club in the book vs. the name of the club on the TV show. In the book it’s the Scions and the tv show they are called the Sons. Scions, sons, scions, sons, scions, sons... see where I’m going with that.
Now let’s get to the story itself. There was zero mystery, zero suspense, and zero thrills.
We still never find out why John kills the second guy. We know he did something to his niece but we never find out what he did to her or the MC to deserve death. Also we do know that the victims had to be some kind of lower life people who we do not feel bad for at all. We are not made to feel bad for the victims at all.
The characters were ok, but not developed at all. There were giant gaping holes in the characters and it was extremely annoying.
All that being said, the author should be completely ashamed of herself for STEALING these characters and the entire premise of the book from an awesome TV show. There is no easy way to say it. This was was a stolen story and I will never read anything else by this author because she can’t spend enough time to come up with an actual original story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Fictionophile .
1,063 reviews340 followers
January 10, 2020
Autumn in small town America. The leaves on the trees are showing off their best colors, but the people perhaps are not... There has been a brutal murder on the banks of the Delaware River, and the people of the town are not forthcoming with information. This is a tourist town - especially in the fall when nature paints a pretty picture. There is a local farm market next to the pedestrian bridge and the locals want the tourists to view their town as a place where nothing bad could happen. Yet, this town is also the home of the Scions. A violent motorcycle gang...

"If the people in Portland knew how to do one thing, it was to turn their backs, to look the other way, especially if it didn't concern them, especially if it involved the Scions."

Becca Kingsley, a devoted veterinary surgeon, has returned home to this town for two reasons. Her live-in partner, an attorney, has been cheating on her AND her father, the town's former police chief, is dying of cancer.  Becca's relationship with her father has been distant for most of her adult life. She remembers his womanizing ways. She remembers that he sent her away - that he made her forget something she wished she hadn't seen.

Only the day before she moved back home, while jogging beside the Delaware River, Becca witnesses something that will haunt her...


As the first of a new series, "River Bodies" is a perfect blend of crime fiction and romantic suspense novel.  The pacing was 'spot on', and the descriptions well rendered.

The characters were all fully fleshed out making it easy for the reader to be empathetic to their situations. Even the villain of the piece was a person you couldn't help but sympathize with. I love that in a book - giving you the perspectives of all sides.

Becca's first love, detective Parker Reed, was everything one could hope for in a romantic interest, and as a policeman.

Becca Kingsley and her faithful German Shepherd dog Romy, along with detective Parker Reed,  were protagonists that I would like to read more of. I am now eagerly looking forward to reading the next books in the Northampton series entitled "Cold Woods" and "Spring Girls". Two more titles for my exploding TBR.

This is a crime novel but also a character study. It is a story of familial relationships, betrayals, regret, loyalty, repressed memories, and moral dilemmas.  Overall, an easy, enjoyable read that I can highly recommend!
Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,398 reviews119 followers
November 1, 2018
Karen Katchur, Author of “River Bodies” has written a suspenseful, captivating, intriguing, intense, riveting, and thrilling story. The Genres for this novel are Fiction, Mystery, Suspense and Thriller. The author describes her interesting characters as complex and complicated. Karen Katchur had me sitting at the edge of my seat. There are twists and turns, betrayals , danger, secrets and murder. The timelines of the story is set both in the past and the present. The common denominator seems to be the Delaware River.

Becca Kingsley , is a veterinarian that loves to run by the river with her dog. She often feels that she is being watched and realizes that her step-brother is watching her from the other side of the river. The step-brother seems strange, quirky, and dangerous and is now the head of one of the gangs in his town. Becca is called home to the other side of the river when she gets news that her father is dying of cancer.

Becca and her father were on terrible terms, and this might be the last time to make things right. Becca also sees that her former love, Parker Reed, a detective is involved in a case where a body was found by the river. This reminds all the townspeople of a similar case 20 years ago, where another body was found by the same river. The local people stay very quiet and don’t want to talk. The town consists of the regular people and the gang.

Becca realizes that she has memories of the past that are so frightening, she has locked them away. I would highly recommend this novel for those readers who enjoy a great mystery full of suspense and surprises. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
Profile Image for Sushi (寿司).
610 reviews132 followers
May 1, 2021
Probabilmente sono io. Forse chiedo troppo che in un libro "crime" l'indagine poliziesca sia la parte principale e non uno sfondo alla vita degli altri. Non lo so.

In questo libro di sbagliato è che c'è troppo su Becca. Certo alla fine saranno importanti ma porca puzzola sarebbe Parker il protagonista visto che ho letto le trame dei volumi seguenti, un pochino non tutto perchè avevo già bocciato il libro, e lui ritorna. Dovrebbe essere più Parker e meno Becca appunto. E poi le prove senza poi concludere niente visto a Parker. Ma anche la cosa finale del bosco è ridicola. Vai nel bosco .
Ho trovato incasinato anche il passato di Becca. Ovviamente non bastava al presente anche il passato per questo vi dico che è troppo Becca.
Se Parker indagava e ogni tanto leggevamo di Becca sarebbe stato meglio.
Profile Image for emmabbooks.
311 reviews9 followers
August 7, 2018
Murdery mystery in Northampton County (US)

When Becca was a child a murdered man was found in her local river. Now, years later, she is back in her hometown and thinks she has seen something suspicious. Could it be linked to the murder that has just been committed, and is that linked to the murder of years ago?

Becca doesn't trust her boyfriend, so visits her dying estranged father to give herself a chance to think. Whilst out in the local woods Becca sees something, which means nothing to her at the time but later on niggles at her mind, and brings back long forgotten memories of the past. Meanwhile she gets back in contact with her old best friend Parker, who is now investigating the recent murder, and Becca discovers her feelings for Parker are still there.

Set around Portland, Pennsylvania by the Delaware River there's plenty of interesting themes in this murder mystery, including the local bike gang who seem to run the small town, relationships based on love and others not so positive, and of course the mystery of what happened recently, and whether it is related to what happens all those years ago.

3*s from me, as though I enjoyed reading this book, I never really felt involved in the characters and action.

Profile Image for Bethany Clark.
515 reviews
May 30, 2018
Wow, this book pulled me in from the first chapter through to the end.
It's a story that brings together both the past and the present with two dead bodies and one killing style that can't be forgotten.
A town that is known to live peacefully (as much as you can) with a gang. The Scion's take care of the people and the people stay hush about their business until one day when a young woman returned to town to say goodbye to her ailing father, the retired head of the police department.
Memories she didn't recall start coming back little by little. Her feelings for Parker begin to become stronger and stronger.
Others begin to realize that the story of the morbid past may come to the surface and the Scions can't let that happen.
Will Becca be able to save her own life? Will Parker be able to get justice for a double murder? The answers will all come to light November 1st.
This first book was great, I can't wait for the second in the series.
Profile Image for Barbara.
986 reviews129 followers
October 2, 2018
This was my pick for my free Amazon Prime 'first reads' (or whatever they call it) for October. Not a great set of choices this month - especially with 1/3 of the books being for children.

Geographically speaking, Becca hasn’t strayed far from her childhood home, living just 15 minutes away on the other side of the river. Emotionally and familiarly though she’s a million miles away. It takes catching her long term boyfriend cheating with other women to send her back ‘home’ to her terminally ill father and his terminally supportive lady friend. Becca’s been gone so long she can no longer remember why and how she left but her past comes back to haunt her is many different ways.

A dead body, eviscerated in the style of a huntsman’s ‘kill’ is found in the river that separates Becca’s old and new worlds, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Everybody seems to just ‘know’ it’s somehow related to a similar killing many years before when Becca was still a child. Back in Portland, Pennsylvania not everything she left behind comes with bad memories and she’s keen to get to know her childhood friend Parker (he’s male – I honestly just don’t get why Americans love giving their kids asexual first names that are really surnames) who works for the local police department. Can she take a friendship forward into something more whilst handling the demons of her past and the cheating boyfriend of her present?

This is a competent but not particularly challenging murder-mystery – though perhaps the mystery tag is inappropriate since we know ‘whodunnit’ and we’re neither particularly challenged nor particularly enlightened about ‘whyhedunnit’. The mystery part is perhaps how Becca has buried memories that might have made the ‘reveal’ even quicker.

I enjoyed the small town menace of the storyline – the biker gang that everybody is scared of and nobody talks about, the open secrets that can’t be prosecuted because nobody will tell them, the undermining of law and order in order to keep a strange and strained type of peace.

It’s a fast read – lots of quick snappy sentences that keep things moving along at a high pace and relatively simple relationships between people without too much cause for confusion. Is it ‘great’ murder mystery? Not really but it’s OK and it does the job. The past and present passages are well distinguished so that the reader rarely gets muddled about whether they’re reading now or then.

For me the motivation for the two murders seems a little weak, the involvement of a third-party that comes out at the end is a bit forced and not particularly intuitive, and there aren’t too many surprises in the final chapters. I liked the characters well enough but didn’t get the cold shudder of suspense or the surprise of unpredicted outcomes that I associate with the best of this genre.

And I have to admit I still don't really get the reason the killer was 'gutting' his victims.
Profile Image for Lori L (She Treads Softly) .
2,342 reviews98 followers
November 11, 2018
River Bodies by Karen Katchur is a so-so novel about relationships rather than a murder mystery. It is not a thriller.

Becca Kingsley lives across the Delaware River from where she grew up in Portland, Pennsylvania and where her estranged father still lives. After his constant cheating on her mom, his decision to send her away to boarding school, and her parents' divorce, she hasn't seen him for years. Now she is a veterinary surgeon on the New Jersey side of the river where she lives with her beloved dog Romy and her cheating boyfriend, Matt. Occasionally she sees a relative watching her from the Pennsylvania side when she is out for a run with Romy. When she learns from her mom that her father is dying and Matt cheats on her, again, she takes off back across the river to see her father who is being taken care of by his current girlfriend.

At the same time a body is found downstream, shot and gutted, like a deer. The body resembles a case her father had twenty years ago, when he was the police chief. It seems that both cases may be tied to the local biker gang, the Scions. When her high school boyfriend, Parker Reed, shows up as the Pennsylvania State Police lead detective on the murder case, she begins to rekindle her feelings for him. But Becca has more clues to the answers to solve both cases than she is admitting.

The technical quality of the writing is good, so I have no qualms with that. The plot, however, is another story. The narrative alternates between what happens to Becca in the present and what happened in her past. This is not a murder mystery. You know the guilty party immediately and you pretty much know who was guilty twenty years ago. There is no motive given, but it's not pertinent to the novel. What it is, however, is a story about lying, cheating men and the women who put up with them until someone else arrives to save the day.

I guess now is the time to admit that I didn't care for Becca and had little patience for her. I simple never connected to Becca and felt very little compulsion to finish the story, other than a commitment to read and review it. Becca needed some introspection and backbone. After all the flashbacks to her cheating father, she should have dumped Matt, no matter how good looking he was (seriously?) the first time he cheated. There is no need to go on; 1 star for the book, 1 for decent writing. Read this only if you like some lite-mystery around a sort-of romance novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.
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