Book review: ‘The Current’ by Tim Johnston

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Two college girls are on their way to Minnesota; Audrey’s father is dying of stage 4 lung cancer. It’s snowing. Caroline is driving. It’s her Rav 4.

Somewhere in Iowa, a toilet break stop turns ugly when two greasy-looking guys pin Audrey against the building in an obvious attempt to rape her. A back scratcher attached to the bathroom keys, Caroline, and pepper spray put a stop to that, but the situation was still tenuous as the girls made their escape. The Rav 4 had 4-wheel drive, but braking too quickly for an unexpected bridge led to a spin that stopped feet short of the river’s bank. All the while they were making their escape, they had watched for telltale headlights. Now they came and didn’t stop until they had nudged the car over the bank onto the ice. The car didn’t stop until it was on the thin ice over the river’s current. The ice cracked and gave way.

Although Audrey survived, Caroline did not.

The Black Root River also ran through Audrey’s hometown in Minnesota. Ten years earlier, a similar incident had taken place, also resulting in the death of a young woman. It remained unsolved. It remained unsolved even though everyone knew, or thought they knew, who was responsible. When Audrey’s ordeal hit the news, memories were revived, painfully so. Audrey’s father had been the sheriff at the time of the accident. He had the boy in custody who everybody knew was responsible for the murder. He had to let him go for lack of hard evidence. The town was shocked, the girl’s father outraged.

Danny Young, the boyfriend, was the one everyone knew had caused HollyBurke’s river death. Though he’d had been freed for lack of evidence, the town had judged him guilty. There was noplace for him in his hometown; for 10 years, he wandered from job to job. When his mother wrote that his pet dog had died, it was time to return home.

As has been mentioned, renewed memories were fresh. Danny’s reception was less than friendly. Because the unsolved case had bothered her father for so long, Audrey took an active interest. The reopened case turned up an alternative theory and an alternative suspect. That created its own tensions and dangers.

“The Current” is truly a suspense novel. You are with each character as the situations develop, but ….

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