The River of Souls by Robert McCammon

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The River of Souls by Robert McCammon

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Buy The River of Souls by Robert McCammon at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: Fans of the series might find something to enjoy here, but if, like me, it's your first adventure with Matthew Corbett, I doubt it will be enough to make you track down the rest. Some good ideas but the pacing is off and there's some lazy storytelling. Borrow, don't buy.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 257 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Subterranean Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1596066304

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Matthew Corbett, professional problem solver from New York, has an unusual assignment - escort a beautiful woman to a ball. He knows there's a reason a beautiful woman would struggle to get a local man to escort her, but he doesn't expect the reason to be an overzealous suitor.

But defeating his unwanted opponent in a duel is only the first in a line of problems. A plantation owner's daughter has been murdered, and Matthew has reason to believe the slaves who've been blamed are innocent. To save them from the lynch mob, Matthew must take a treacherous journey up the River of Souls, braving alligators, Indians and maybe even evil spirits...

This was a bit of an odd one. For a murder-mystery, you learn the identity of the murderer very early - the rest of the book becomes an extended chase up the river. So right from the off, it wasn't quite what I expected, but there were also a lot of minor niggles that prevented me fully engaging with the story.

On the positive side, it was entertaining, and not too long, which meant you didn't have to invest too much time to get through it. The fact that it's the 5th in a series did prevent me from fully accessing everything - but not enough to make the story difficult to follow. Past relationships were referenced, but there wasn't anything that you couldn't figure out after a couple of mentions. The characters were mostly engaging and reasonably well fleshed out.

And the sequence on the river had plenty of menace. I really liked the 'spirits' and the fact that identifying exactly what those things really were didn't make them any less frightening or dangerous. And there were some pretty shocking sequences involving severed heads.

But the pacing was a bit off. It took a long time to get started, the culprit was discovered very quickly, and then there was a long ending sequence after the fact of the resolution that was both bizarre and ill-fitting. It felt like the beginning of another story, rather than the end of this one. It featured a character losing their memory, in what seemed to be a completely contrived way to set up the conflict in the next novel.

All in all it was just a bit lazy. A great location, some good ideas, but everything felt a bit rushed, or too stretched out, with missed opportunities and a few moments of lazy storytelling.

The narration of the audiobook version was well done, Edoardo Ballerini able to get the softer, posher tones of Matthew, and the rough edges of his companion. The quality of the production made the story much more enjoyable than I think it would have been to read.

So, fans of the series might find something to enjoy here, but if, like me, it's your first adventure with Matthew Corbett, I doubt it will be enough to make you track down the rest. Borrow, don't buy.

Fans of historical crime might enjoy Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake) by C J Sansom.

Buy The River of Souls by Robert McCammon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The River of Souls by Robert McCammon at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The River of Souls by Robert McCammon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The River of Souls by Robert McCammon at Amazon.com.

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