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River of Salt

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  70 ratings  ·  23 reviews
1961, Philadelphia. After having to give up his brother to save his own life, hitman Blake Saunders flees the Mob and seeks refuge on the other side of the world. Two years later he has been reborn in a tiny coastal Australian town. The ghosts of the past still haunt him, but otherwise Coral Shoals is paradise. Blake surfs, and plays guitar in his own bar, the Surf Shack. ...more
Paperback, 1st, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2019 by Fremantle Press
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3.96  · 
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 ·  70 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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“Blake moved purposefully just like the old guy who’d once done jobs for Capone had told him. ‘Never rush out. It invites the unwanted, accidents, problems. You get hit by a car, knock over a pram … people remember that. I knew a guy: he fired, turned and ran straight through a glass door. He bled out on the pavement before the guy he shot. Wear glasses. All they remember: the guy wore glasses.’

Yep, Blake’s a hit-man in Philadelphia (“Philly”, in the US), and a good one. It’s a little like
After his brother was killed in the early 1960s, Blake Saunders ran away from his past as a hit man for the Philadelphia mob all the way to the other side of the world. Although he can never forget his brother or his past, now he surfs, runs a bar and plays guitar with his group in a small Queensland beach town. This paradise is shattered when a young women, passing through the town, is killed in a gruesome murder at the local motel. When a man Blake employs and knows is innocent is arrested and ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been a big fan of Dave Warner since I read Clear to the Horizon (2017) and have been eagerly anticipating his next book...and it was certainly worth the wait.

Blending 1960's mob life with the Australian surf seems like an odd combination but Warner makes it work incredibly well, somehow transforming a Philadelphia hitman into a likable protagonist who reads like a typical Aussie bloke.

Half a world separates Blake's old life from his new yet his ghosts still haunt him. After loosing his brot
Mandy White
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
River of Salt was my first Dave Warner book and I have to say that I loved it. One of my reading goals for this year to read more Australian writers and Dave Warner has certainly got my attention with this book. I didn't want to put it down, I became hooked on the lives of the locals of Coral Shoals and wanted to know how it was going to end.. The main characters in this book were all on their own journeys in 1960's Queensland, a time so different to current days - the days before mobile phones ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Australia has been consistently producing some sublime authors with their equally sublime offerings in recent years and Dave Warner's River of Salt is no exception. With a beautifully crafted, thrilling plot, a cast of well-developed characters and plenty of surprises, this is a superb, original and thoroughly engaging read. What makes it unique in particular is that it harks back to the 1960s and this gives a totally different and wholly welcome feel to it all. Blake is a bad boy with a softer ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Mile after mile of bush. Gum trees standing straight and silent along the side of the road like ghosts sitting in judgement on the living: on him. It was amazing you could drive so far and see so few people. With each passing minute, the sun sunk lower, as if embarrassed by the outcome of the day. Light that had been pale, almost white when he set out, turned the colour of urine. My life is like this, Blake thought. I keep driving on in my car, removed. I don't get out and touch what's around m ...more
Jessica B
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finished River of Salt in a couple of days, if you’re in the market for a quintessential fast paced crime book, look no further. I adored the Australian Beach back drop. Warner does an excellent job of creating a fully rounded Australian coastal town, this is exactly how I picture Australia in the 60’s. You get the good and the bad as Warner doesn’t shy away from exploring some of the darker aspects of Australia culture. The book was peppered with Australian slang and colloquialisms that I so ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
River of Salt by Dave Warner is a pretty decent crime fiction/mystery with strong literary aspects to it. If you're basically a genre specific reader, like myself, don't let the idea of "serious" fiction keep you from reading this one. That would be a mistake.

A quick set-up. Blake Saunders has a dark past, just a couple of years ago he was an up-and-coming hitman in Philadelphia. Things got bad, things got worse. Skip ahead... Now Blake owns a bar in a tiny coastal town in Australia. He surfs, h
Cathy Geha
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
River of Salt by Dave Warner

Filled with references from the 60’s this book brought back many memories of my life...not of being in the mob or a hitman but of songs and cars and beaches and fashion and so much more. I can’t say I understood main character hitman Blake but I did like him – in spite of his profession. I like a bad guy with a heart of gold and Blake Sullivan was such a man. This book made me think of movies and television shows of the 60’s and had me hoping that Blake could keep his
Seema Rao
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Atmosphere ~ Character-Driven ~ Beachy

tl; dr: Philadelphia hitman relocates to Australia when things get back. Things take a while to get better.

Blake is a hitman who needs to disappear. He pops back up in Australia as a musician. The book was fast-paced and well-written. It is a weird mash-up though of hard-boiled and introspective. Poor Blake is a classic conflicted bad-guy with a heart of gold. A murder in Australia sets off a whole lot of soul searching.

This is a solid book that just wasn'
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my second Warner book and while this falls into the same category as Clear to the Horizon, it felt as though it was written by a completely different author with the writing style noticeably different and the sentence structure as well. It was brilliant, I actually got Clear to the Horizon out and compared the two and loved it. In my defence of my crazy action you can pick up a few books by an author and know that it is written by them just by their style and use of words, some examples ...more
Seán Byrne
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books, netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley & Freemantle Press for this book 'River of Salt' by Dave Warner.

At the beginning I was a bit lost as to where this book was heading or what direction it intended to make. Blake, a guy from Philadelphia, flees the Philly mob to sunny Australia.

Blake has tried to escape his past life and runs a bar called the Surf Shack and performs with his band at the bar, while surfing during the day. He works with Doreen, who privately holds a flame for Blake and is an interesting
Alex  Jones
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m not sure where to start with this one, from the outset I should have loved this book but I just didn’t . It’s not a bad book by any means , it’s a good book, it’s quite fast paced but it just feels a bit , I don’t know, doomed all the way through, there are no elements of comedy to lighten the mood but then it’s a murder mystery... So it’s set in Australia in the 60s, an American mob hit man on the run trying to start a fresh in a new world, I’ll be honest I felt like the book was set in the ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Blake Saunders is a hitman for a Philadelphia crime mob. When his brother crosses one of the local bosses, Blake is forced to flee. He eventually ends up in Australia, where he runs a surf bar in a quiet seaside town and tries to bury his past. When a young girl is murdered nearby there is evidence that connects her to Blake's bar and he starts to receive unwelcome attention. When the city cops arrest a mate, Blake is convinced they are wrong and sets out to solve the crime himself.

This novel, s
Tim Armstrong
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve been a Dave Warner fan, the musician, for years. “Suburban Boy” is a classic Aussie song, (as is “Convict Streak”) and the lyrics just give you a small inkling to what a great writer Warner has turned out to be!
The author’s depiction of sixties Australia is spot on. Indeed there was heaps I’d forgotten so that alone was a revelation.
But this books has more twists and turns than an old gum tree. It was a great read, and I’ve already ordered Warner’s previous books - he’s that good.
Ann Tonks
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I did. A hitman hiding out in country New South Wales in the 1960s is an interest premise. There were some well rounded other characters - the local cop, a school girl, restaurant workers. But I had an unease all the way through about the lead character. It probably seems ludicrous to talk about the ethics of a hit man but if I'm going to connect with the story's driver, I wanted to buy into his actions and decisions and I just couldn't.
Heather Fineisen
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a good introduction to a series. A lot of characterization and setting building up. The premise of a mafia killer from Philly' s relocation to an Aussie beach in the early sixties is a good one. The mystery was a little weak but the development detracted from it. There is a musical element with a beach bar band, too. Kind of reminds me of a gritty Elvis movie.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Warner does a good job of imagining '60s Australia. The main character has his own secrets, but he is likeable. I enjoyed the back story of Doreen and Kitty. The twists and turns in this novel are plausible. The depiction of the town and it’s dynamics were interesting.
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Heather Boundy
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very readable story of a young man, involved in criminal activities in the US, who escapes to Queensland to start a new life for himself - and how the past can haunt....
Cindy Lauren
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an interesting combination of stories- brothers who do whatever is necessary for sheer survival, even to an extreme. Saving oneself is critical, and moving as far away from the scene of the crime is a crucial first step. The saying is that it is a small world, and inevitably trouble is always close behind.

A murder precipitates all sorts of revelations and relationship changes. There are a few different levels in this book, action and insight. I think I would prefer more action.

Its a fun
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Dave Warner is the author of nine novels, including the winner of the 1996 WA Premier’s Award for Fiction, City of Light, and six other non-fiction titles, Dave Warner originally gained national recognition as a musician-songwriter in the late 1970s. In 1973 he formed Australia’s first punk band, Pus, playing early versions of tracks such as Suburban Boy and Hot Crotch which he was later to record ...more
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