11 January 2022

Review: THE RIVER MOUTH, Karen Herbert

  • This edition an e-book on Libby made available through my local library
  • ISBN: 9781760990466
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication year: 2021
  • Publisher: Fremantle Press

Synopsis (publisher

Fifteen-year-old Darren Davies is found facedown in the Weymouth River with a gunshot wound to his chest. The killer is never found.

Ten years later, his mother receives a visit from the local police. Sandra’s best friend has been found dead on a remote Pilbara road. And Barbara’s DNA matches the DNA found under Darren’s fingernails. 

When the investigation into her son’s murder is reopened, Sandra begins to question what she knew about her best friend. As she digs, she discovers that there are many secrets in her small town, and that her murdered son had secrets too.

My Take

The setting of this novel is a small coastal town on the West Australian coast at the mouth of the Weymouth River some days south of the Pilbara. There are two major timelines. The novel has several narrators including Darren, his friends Colin and Tim, and Darren's mother Sandra. The combination of the timelines and the various narrative voices give the story considerable complexity.

The narration starts with Sandra, and what she knows, ten years after her son was killed and few days after her best friend's body has been found in the Pilbara. Chapter 2 is narrated by Colin and begins a count down 25 days before Darren died. From there we flit backwards and forwards from the past to the present. The reader is often left to deduce which timeline we are on, and I did find that confusing at times, although we do know who the narrator is. There is a lot for the reader to unravel, but that is part of the pleasure of the book, so I am not going to explain everything here. At times the author attempts to see things through the eyes of the three boys, and at times reflects their lack of understanding of what is happening in the adult world around them.

Sandra thinks she has moved on since Darren's death, but there are questions she has never asked and answers she has never sought.

I thought there were hints that various of the characters may have indigenous background but perhaps I missed out on picking up on when that was more clearly stated.

The final resolution to who killed Darren, and why, seems to come out of left field, but there were hints among all the red herrings.

So here is another new author to watch!

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Karen Herbert spent her childhood in Geraldton on the midwest coast of Australia, attending local schools before moving to Perth to study at the University of Western Australia where she attained a Bachelor of Commerce with First Class Honours. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Psychology. Karen has worked in aged care, disability services, higher education, Indigenous land management, social housing and the public sector, and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a Board Member of The Intelife Group, a Board Observer at Advocare, and President of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA). Karen lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, Ross, and the occasional fledgling.

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