River Road was the first novel I read by Carol Goodman, which was a thriller that began when professor Nan Lewis hit a dear on her drive home. When she awoke the following morning, a police officer accused her of hitting one of her students, not a dear. The accusation set Nan on a mission to clear her name, and to determine whether she had actually hit a dear or her student. Nan was recovering from the death of her daughter, which caused her marriage to crumble and pushed her to drink an unhealthy amount each night. Her drinking habit made her an unreliable narrator because she couldn’t remember various details of her day, not just the events surrounding the accident with what she believed was a dear. Nan didn’t actually set out to investigate the murder, she really just wanted to clear her name and get on with her life. Her somewhat neurotic personality led her to help others clear their name as well, which meant that she was present at the police station throughout the novel and was constantly coming up with explanations of how the student died.
Nan’s relationship with several other teachers at the university where she taught was an important aspect for this story. Several other female teachers appeared to be friendly with Nan, but there was obvious tension between the women. Nan’s relationships with the students gave her another reason to want to discover the truth. I liked that way that the characters spoke to each other in easy conversations that moved the story along at an even pace. I was surprised by the amount of action that was present here. Many of the events came as a surprise to me, although it fit together well enough to have enough of a basis to make it work.
The novel became a bit ridiculous when the body count started to rise and several people were hit with a car. I mean really, how many people can be struck in a driving accident in one book? Also, the story tapered off at the end for me. I wasn’t all that impressed with the resolution, although I did appreciate how everything fit together here. There was a resolution for all the characters, and there was even a love story thrown in for good measure.