At the River
February 2, 2024

Book Review

At the River

reviewed by Pam Guynn

At the River by Kendra Elliot brings mystery and suspense to a police procedural. However, it is so much more than that. This is the fifth book in the Columbia River series and the eighth book in the FBI Special Agent Mercy Kilpatrick series and features Mercy, her husband Police Chief Truman Daly, and Truman’s ward Ollie Smith as well as Detective Noelle Marshall of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office.

The novel is set in and around Eagle’s Nest, Oregon.

Twenty years ago, five teenage campers disappeared. Two turned up after several days, bound and left for dead on the shore of the Columbia River. The only one of the two to survive was Devin Bonner, but he doesn’t remember what happened. When a true crime podcaster is found dead in the same location with the same manner of death, Mercy, Truman, and other law enforcement personnel are determined to solve the recent murder along with the cold case.

Mercy is calm, intense, a talented investigator, and projects confidence. Truman has a calming effect on others. He also looks out for the older residents of Eagle’s Nest and the surrounding area. Ollie is compassionate, kind, thoughtful, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Noelle is well-respected and very direct.

The suspenseful and complex story was well-plotted. It blended murder, disappearances, and amnesia with family, friendship, and much more. The story kept me captivated from its gripping beginning to its somewhat surprising conclusion. There are several twists and turns along the way and the pacing was good throughout the book. The author is an excellent storyteller who kept me rapidly turning the pages. My quibbles are that there was a little too much tell versus show at times and the ending was slightly rushed.

While the mysteries and their investigation drive a lot of the story, relationships play a big role as well. I enjoyed their threads being woven into the plot and seeing them unfold. Understanding the fallout from things kept hidden added to the enjoyment of the novel.

 Overall, this engrossing police procedural has great characterization with likeable and relatable main characters as well as a solid mystery and story line. Themes include murder, secrets, disappearances, family, caring for others, friendship, and much more. While some characters are recurring, enough background is provided that allows this to work as a standalone novel as well. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Readers who appreciate mysteries and police investigations combined with family relationships will likely enjoy this series. Will Detective Noelle Marshall get her own book soon?

Montlake and Kendra Elliot provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for February 13, 2024.

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