Down River by John Hart

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 12 Critic Reviews



Down River is the winner of the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Everything that shaped him happened near that river….

Now its banks are filled with lies and greed, shame, and murder….

John Hart’s debut, The King of Lies, was compelling and lyrical, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times declaring, “There hasn’t been a thriller as showily literate since Scott Turow came along.”  Now, in Down River, Hart makes a scorching return to Rowan County, where he drives his characters to the edge, explores the dark side of human nature, and questions the fundamental power of forgiveness.

Adam hase has a violent streak, and not without reason. As a boy, he saw things that no child should see, suffered wounds that cut to the core and scarred thin. The trauma left him passionate and misunderstood---a fighter. After being narrowly acquitted of a murder charge, Adam is hounded out of the only home he’s ever known, exiled for a sin he did not commit. For five long years he disappears, fades into the faceless gray of New York City. Now he’s back and nobody knows why, not his family or the cops, not the enemies he left behind.

But Adam has his reasons.

Within hours of his return, he is beaten and accosted, confronted by his family and the women he still holds dear. No one knows what to make of Adam’s return, but when bodies start turning up, the small town rises against him and Adam again finds himself embroiled in the fight of his life, not just to prove his own innocence, but to reclaim the only life he’s ever wanted.

Bestselling author John Hart holds nothing back as he strips his characters bare.  Secrets explode, emotions tear, and more than one person crosses the brink into deadly behavior as he examines the lengths to which people will go for money, family, and revenge.

A powerful, heart-pounding thriller, Down River will haunt your thoughts long after the last page is turned.

Praise for John Hart and The King of Lies

“Treat yourself to something new and truly out of the ordinary.”

---Rocky Mountain News

“A top-notch debut. Hart’s prose is like Raymond Chandler’s, angular and hard.”

--Entertainment Weekly (grade A)

“A gripping performance.”

---People magazine

“A marriage of carefully crafted prose alongside have-to-keep-reading suspense.”

---The Denver Post

“A masterful piece of writing.”

---The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

“A gripping mystery/thriller and a fully fleshed, thoughtful work of literature.”

---Winston-Salem Journal

The King of Lies moves and reads like a book on fire.”

---Pat Conroy

“John Hart’s debut . . .  is that most engrossing of rarities, a well-plotted mystery novel that is written in a beautifully poetic style.”

---Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama

“Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding.”

---The New York Times



About John Hart

See more books from this Author
John Hart is the New York Times bestselling author of Down River and The King of Lies. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award and England's Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. He was born and raised in North Carolina. For a time he practiced criminal defense law, but left to focus on his writing.
Published October 2, 2007 by Minotaur Books. 336 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Horror. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Down River

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Adam Chase returns to his North Carolina home, prompted by a cryptic phone call from old friend Danny Faith, after five years of self-imposed exile in New York.

| Read Full Review of Down River

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

“Five years ago you were the crown prince of Rowan County,” somebody hisses at Adam Chase, the prodigal protagonist of John Hart’s “Down River,” a Southern-fried literary thriller.

Oct 04 2007 | Read Full Review of Down River

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

I’ve been fooled by first-person characters before, so I resolved to keep a careful eye on Adam.

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Down River

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

Page 1 — Page 2 — Page 3

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Down River

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

But Hart makes you care so much about young Adam Chase (and maybe even doubt him a little from time to time), that I’m betting no one else can step away from that book any easier than I could.

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Down River

Book Reporter

Before the events of the book have come to an end, Chase will learn things about his family --- and himself --- that in some ways would be better left unknown yet in other ways would give him the opportunity to face his future unencumbered.

Jan 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Down River

Entertainment Weekly

Five years ago, Adam Chase was acquitted of the murder of a local teenager — only to be shunned by everyone in his rural North Carolina town.

Oct 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Down River

Reviewing the Evidence

The part of the town that wants to sell is threatening Adam's father because he is the leader of the group who wants the town to remain as it is.

| Read Full Review of Down River


Alone Lyrics by John Hart It’s february 14 I just broke up with my girl Are you missing all for love Roses and teddy bears everybody’s celebrating I don’t wanna be alone I dont wanna be...

Dec 15 2008 | Read Full Review of Down River

Bookmarks Magazine

Janet Maslin Critical Summary John Hart's 2006 debut, The King of Lies ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection Sept/Oct 2006), earned an Edgar nomination for Best First Novel.

Dec 03 2007 | Read Full Review of Down River

Monsters and Critics

The only bright spot in Adam’s grim homecoming is Robin Alexander, his old love interest who chose to remain in Salisbury when he left town.

Oct 30 2007 | Read Full Review of Down River

I could recall the eyes of every person on the jury, feel the grain of wood at the table where I’d sat for three long weeks.

Dec 25 2017 | Read Full Review of Down River

Reader Rating for Down River

An aggregated and normalized score based on 384 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review