Saturday, October 15, 2016

River Road by Carol Goodman

Things haven't been right in Nan Lewis' world for a long time.  A creative writing teacher at a private college in upstate New York, she can trace when her world fell apart to the day her four year old daughter was hit and killed on the narrow, twisting road in front of their house.  Nan had gone inside for just a moment while her daughter played in the yard.  She'll never know what made her go down into the road but her life ended when Ellie's did.  Six years later she is sleepwalking through her job still, her husband gone.

The blows keep coming.  Nan finds out at a faculty Christmas party that she will be denied tenure.  Her colleagues, such as her nearest neighbor Clarissa and her supervisor, Ross, think she is on her way to being an alcoholic.  Distraught, she gets in her car and heads home only to hit a deer on the same road where her daughter was killed.  She tries to follow the deer into the woods to be sure it is OK only to fall asleep or is it passing out from too much drink?  She awakens and stumbles home.  The next morning she finds that her best student, Leia, was hit and killed right outside her home.  The police see the damage on her car and she is immediately a suspect.  What shocks her is how quickly her college community all turn on her.

Nan realizes that if she wants to be exonerated, she will have to prove her innocence by finding the guilty party.  Is it local bad boy Troy who had a thing for Leia?  Her supervisor Ross who some suspect of being way too close to the student he was supposed to have a professional relationship with?  The woman who killed Nan's daughter who has been recently released from prison and who Nan has seen hanging around?  Nan needs to find the truth soon before she is overwhelmed again.

Carol Goodman has written a series of mysteries, each a stand-alone novel.  This novel echoes her own life.  She is a creative writing teacher and lives in the Hudson Valley herself.  Goodman's characters are fighting for clarification and resolution of life problems while fighting their own internal demons.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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