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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur

The Delaware River is almost a character itself in this novel from Karen Katchur, with Katchur’s beautiful prose bringing the scenic area on the river’s banks to life as she explores characters in a small Pennsylvania town dominated by a biker gang.

Anyone who’s watched Sons Of Anarchy can probably guess which direction the plot is headed in, but it’s how it gets there which is really interesting, viewed through the eyes of veterinarian Becca Kingsley, who left her small hometown long ago when her police chief father sent her away. With other family members in the Scions biker gang, she was someone who could be used against him; frankly I’m surprised he kept her in town until her late teens. Now her father’s dying, she’s come back, and is quickly drawn back into the weird dynamics again.

I thought from the blurb it would be Parker, the detective working on the case of a body washed up in the river, who would be the protagonist, but he was more a love interest for Becca. Becca’s messed-up relationship with her father and with her boyfriend, a creep who cheats on her, was a fascinating exploration of why some people repeat their parents’ mistakes until their eyes are opened to what they’re doing, but it did detract from the mystery of the dead bodies. And, incidentally, we never did find out exactly why the murder victim was killed. It was all a bit too vague, considering the reader knew from very early on who the killer was, and even got to ride around in his head and see his decision-making process.

Katchur’s prose is genuinely stunning, and her characters are interesting and well fleshed-out, but the plot really didn’t grab me and at the end of the day I didn’t really think the suspense built up enough to the final climax. Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

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