Beau Deveraux seems to have it all – he’s the only son of the town’s wealthiest man, is the star quarterback on the high school football team, and has a pretty cheerleader girlfriend, Dawn Moore. But he hides a cold and unloving family life, a vicious, violent temper, and a fascination with Dawn’s identical twin sister, Leslie, who wants nothing to do with him. And when chance encounters lead him to discover an addictive thrill in rape, torture, and murder, he becomes obsessed with the idea of making Leslie his ultimate victim. Can she manage to keep both herself and her twin safe, when the town’s biggest high-school hero proves to be its most dangerous villain?
DEATH BY THE RIVER is a chilling horror tale, not for the squeamish, that hits on the very topical question of sexual violence and rich, privileged young men who get away with it. The message is not particularly subtle, and there’s not much mystery here, since we actually see the crimes being committed, but the book manages to be darkly, painfully engaging nonetheless. The author switches points of view between Beau, Leslie, and Dawn throughout the book, giving the reader a vividly omniscient perspective. This is sometimes even more chilling than not knowing all of what’s going on would be, especially when a character is about to blithely walk into danger we can see but they cannot. On the other hand, sometimes it does spoil the suspense to some extent. As the story goes on, for example, Beau visibly slips down the path from “spoiled rich kid with entitlement and anger issues” to “violent psychopath who tortures and kills without a conscience,” but since we see him initially through Leslie’s sharp, perceptive eyes, rather than Dawn’s blindly adoring view, that’s less of a surprise than it might be. There are, nonetheless, a few secrets and twists hidden from the reader – the alert reader may spot them, but they are not so obvious as to ruin the ending.
DEATH BY THE RIVER is a creepy, frequently graphic tale of a privileged young man’s fall into violence and brutality – and of the inevitable, dramatic consequences of his actions.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader