When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them. One father is forced to relive his agony while another’s greatest desire—to bring a killer to justice—is revitalized . . . and the girl who survived the icy plunge cannot escape the sense that she is connected to that earlier unsolved case by more than a river. Soon enough she’s caught up in an investigation of her own that will unearth long-hidden secrets, and stoke the violence that has long simmered just below the surface of the town. Souls frozen in time, ghosts and demons, the accused and the guilty, all stir to life in this cold northern place where memories, like treachery, run just beneath the ice, and where a young woman can come home but still not be safe.
Brilliantly plotted, unrelentingly suspenseful, and beautifully realized, The Current is a gripping page-turner about how the past holds the key to the future as well as an unbreakable grip on the present.
I really enjoyed Tim Johnston’s previous book, The Descent, so I had high hopes for this followup.
And for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. Like The Descent, The Current was atmospheric and so well written. I listened to this in the winter, and I think that probably had a lot to do with it, too. I could almost feel the ice and the cold of the river.
So why not more stars? Well, first of all, three stars is a perfectly acceptable rating. A three-star rating means I enjoyed the book, and I’d probably recommend it, though probably not to everyone.
I don’t know that listening to this book was necessarily the right choice. Tim Johnston’s writing, while strong, tends to meander. There are a lot of sentences that would go on and on, and I would lose track of what was even being talked about.
There were also a lot of characters, most of whom got their own POV chapters. However, none of the chapters had names or headings or anything, so it would sometimes be several minutes of listening before I had any idea whose head we were in. Several times I thought we must be in character A’s head but it turned out we were actually in B’s head, which forced me to go back and re-listen to at least a portion of the chapter with the correct character’s voice. It also goes back and forth in time with no indication of where or when we are. It wasn’t the easiest listening experience.
I will warn you, however, that the ending is very very open. We’re pretty much given the solution to the mystery, but you could easily make the argument that it wasn’t real. Or wasn’t the truth. There’s a main character who just disappears with no explanation, and a second mystery that is also sort of solved, but probably not. If something like this bothers you, I would recommend staying away from this one. Maybe Johnston is working on a sequel to this one. Maybe not. I haven’t heard anything, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. If that happens, even if it’s another book in this same world, we could end up getting some of those answers. But they’re not in this book.
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