A RIVER OF CROWS by Shanessa Gluhm
GENRE: Psychological Thriller/Suspense
PUBLISHER: TouchPoint Press
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2023
In 1988, Sloan Hadfield’s brother Ridge went fishing with their father and never came home. Their father, a good-natured Vietnam veteran prone to violent outbursts, was arrested and charged with murder. Ridge’s body was never recovered, and Sloan’s mother—a brilliant ornithologist—slowly descended into madness, insisting her son was still alive.
Now, twenty years later, Sloan’s life is unraveling. In the middle of a bitter divorce, she’s forced to return to her rural Texas hometown when her mother is discharged from a mental health facility.
Overwhelmed by memories and unanswered questions, Sloan returns to the last place her brother was seen all those years ago: Crow’s Nest Creek. There, she is shocked to hear a crow muttering the same syllable over and over: Ridge, Ridge, Ridge.
When the body of another boy is found, Sloan begins to question what really happened to her brother all those years ago. What she discovers will shock her small community and turn her family upside down.
A River of Crows is a tale of family secrets, deception, and revenge perfect for fans of Julia Heaberlin and Jennifer Hillier.
praise for A River of Crows
“In A River of Crows, Shanessa Gluhm spins a complex web of murder and family revelation that propels the reader forward at a breakneck pace. Just when you think you know where the story is headed, she reveals another thread. If you haven’t yet read Shanessa Gluhm, you need to put her on your to-be-read list.” ~ Allen Eskens, USA Today bestselling author of The Life We Bury
“A twisted family dynamic and complex personal history combine with a touch of romance in Shanessa Gluhm’s knockout second novel. A River of Crows grabs on with the opening pages and holds a reader tight to the very end.” ~ Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell, author of All We Buried and the Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet) series
“A River of Crows is a superb second novel that shows Shanessa Gluhm is a naturally gifted storyteller and writer, on a par with all the greats.” ~ Rob Samborn, author of The Prisoner of Paradise and Painter of the Damned
“Shanessa Gluhm crafts a thought-provoking story of revelation, family ties, discovery, and murder… Readers who choose A River of Crows for its mystery will find an unexpected draw and value in the emotional components which keep the plot action-packed and charged with transformation.” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Gluhm peels away layers of family secrets in this dual timeline narrative, right up until the climactic final reveal, a twist that truly surprised me. Well done!” ~ Laura Kemp, award-winning author of the Lantern Creek Series
“I’ve heard about angels, a tunnel, and a bright white light, but all I see are crows – smears and smudges of crows circling above the water. The same water I’ve swum in, fished in, and studied beside will be the water that will soon flood my lungs. This river has been part of me for so long, it’s only fitting that I soon become a part of it.”
Whew. With that opening paragraph of A River of Crows, Shanessa Gluhm grabbed my attention. I had to keep reading. How could I not? And that’s the state I remained in throughout this riveting novel. The twisty plot, the broken characters, and yes even the crows kept me engrossed in unraveling the tangle of threads the author skillfully weaves for us until the full tapestry of those first three foreboding sentences becomes clear. The sense of urgency ebbs and flows much like the titular river, but it definitely amps up toward the end until you’re holding your breath and sitting on the edge of your seat.
All of the characters in A River of Crows are so very broken and bruised by life’s cruel twists, but at the same time they each retain a certain relatability that allows readers to feel connected to those parts of the characters they also recognize in themselves. They are damaged, yes, but there is a spark of life amid the dead branches and the detritus. I ached for their losses, I felt the tension, and I very much cared how this would all turn out for each of them.
Bottom Line: The thrill of reading A River of Crows is in experiencing the revelations, the twists, and the unexpected truths as Shanessa Gluhm masterfully reveals them, so I’m purposefully not telling you much about the story. BUT… this plot is not as straightforward as it first appears; rather it is deliciously layered in ways that made me suspicious of everyone but still taken totally by surprise with the ending. The flashbacks to the 1980s were used very effectively to fill in the blanks for what is happening in the book’s present day, plus I loved the nostalgia they brought me. A River of Crows is an excellent psychological thriller on its own but the complex themes it dares to explore – like PTSD, infidelity, betrayal, family trauma, revenge, trafficking, and mental health – give readers even more reason to reflect back on this book long after they’ve turned the last page.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received via Partners in Crime Book tours.. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is a moderate amount of cursing and occasional profanities in this book.
Shanessa Gluhm works as a librarian at an elementary school in New Mexico where she lives with her husband and children. It was during her own elementary days when a teacher encouraged Shanessa to share a story she wrote called, “Piggy the Kid” with the class. They asked for a sequel and she hasn’t stopped writing since.
Her debut novel, Enemies of Doves was an IAN Book of the Year Finalist in the category of first novel, an NIEA Finalist for cross-genre fiction, and first place winner in the Chanticleer Clue Awards for mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction.
When Shanessa is not writing she enjoys bird-watching, reading, and watching true crime documentaries. Shanessa loves to hear from her readers and the best way to connect is via e-mail or her Facebook page.
check out Readers’ Roost, the Shanessa Gluhm Books Street Team Facebook Group!
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What about you? What makes you want to read A River of Crows by Shanessa Gluhm?