Every small town has its secrets, and some are darker than others. For the town of Tallston, long-buried skeletons are starting to claw their way to the surface. Four people have been brutally massacred over the course of a week, and the only survivor is a young boy who witnessed the slaughter of his parents. Liam Dempsey, an ex-detective and brother to one of the victims, takes it upon himself to find out who is ruthlessly murdering the citizens of Tallston. The River is Dark pulls readers out into its murky waters and holds their attention as they’re swept along in its twisted current.
Liam is a broken man. The only thing he ever really excelled at — being a detective — has been taken from him. He rarely sleeps. He is plagued by constant anxiety. The cause of Liam’s torment isn’t revealed immediately and is instead unveiled throughout the story. Author Joe Hart does an excellent job with pacing and explaining the pain and grief that Liam Dempsey experiences. But despite his heart-wrenching background, Liam just isn’t a character that most readers will find themselves caring much about.
The unraveling of the plot is well-paced and well-written, despite its occasional holes. For those readers who are veterans of the horror genre, the monster reveal will probably not be much of a shock. Hart does, however, succeed in creating a terrifying villain with an interesting motivation. The action scenes are engaging and the violence, while often over-the-top, adds another dimension of terror to the brutal nemesis.
The River is Dark frequently stumbles into clichés and stereotypes. The first day that Liam arrives in Tallston he randomly encounters a long-lost love interest, and, of course, the flame between them never really died out. She proceeds to follow Liam as they go about investigating the horrific murders, and she often finds herself in need of rescuing. The police are completely inept and depend on Liam to solve the case. While being cringe-worthy at times, these things can be overlooked in favor of Hart’s descriptive language and elegant storytelling. The River is Dark is an entertaining and fast read that is sure to satisfy lovers of the horror genre.