Thank you to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for sending me a free copy of The Current by Tim Johnston in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Amazon:
In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scene—half frozen but alive.
What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.
Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.
Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.
I read Tim Johnston’s Descent a few years back and really enjoyed the depths within the pages of what would otherwise be a typical thriller. So when I saw The Current was soon to be published, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy because I knew what a gem it would be.
The first thing I picked up on while reading The Current was the familiarity and authenticity of small town life: the people, their thoughts and judgements, the gossip and the humbleness of the daily grind. Authors sometimes paint small town life as quaint, or quirky even but it really isn’t any of those things. I have lived small town life and saw it mimicked precisely in The Current.
That realness really set the stage for the small town drama that ensued. Elements from the past and present, while seemingly separate in the beginning, meld into a tragedy much bigger than the towns people originally thought. While it did take me a little while to piece together what was going on between the pas and present, by the last quarter of the book I was flying through pages to find out what would happen.
One issue I did have with the book was the beginning third or so, where bits and pieces of the past are intermingled with the present plot. Timeframes are not noted so I kept getting confused if a character was telling about something currently happening or something that happened before. Once I got everything straightened out in my mind, I found it easier to follow along but it was a rocky start.
The Current was also a little slower moving that I remember Descent being, but I did think that the slower pace matched the small town life and setting that Johnston so soundly built up. I would definitely call this one a slow burn.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and the depths of setting and character that Johnston is so good at creating will help this book make a lasting impression in my mind. I rate this one 3.5 out of 5 starts, I did enjoy it but I think I still like Descent better.