When a controversial politician is murdered in cold blood, Baton Rouge Police Detective Wallace Hartman struggles to find the killer amid conspiracies and corruption in River of Secrets, a gripping new mystery from Roger Johns.
Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician infamous for changing his mind on hot-button issues, has been murdered and his body posed to send a message. Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman has to figure out who’s sending that message. DNA points to Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who also happens to be the half-brother of Wallace’s childhood best friend. But even with the combative history between Pitkin and Marioneaux, murder seems out of character for Pitkin, whose usual MO is to confront the wealthy and powerful with their inconvenient past. As Wallace digs deeper, she unearths a possible alibi witness, along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship that points the finger of suspicion at Marioneaux’s son.
While Eddie’s supporters are convinced of his innocence, his enemies are equally certain of his guilt. Under pressure from all directions, Wallace pursues her investigation into the dark heart of the political establishment as Baton Rouge falls under the shadow of escalating violence. When it appears a police department insider may be sabotaging her efforts by leaking information about the case, and after menacing messages are left for her and her loved ones, Wallace is forced to untangle a trail of old and disturbing secrets unaided by those she most needs to trust.
The cardboard character of the lead Baton Rouge, La., police detective Wallace Hartman and a relatively uncomplicated mystery mar Johns's sequel to 2017's Dark River Rising. When Herbert Marioneaux, a white state senator whose past is filled with "controversial views" regarding racial segregation, is murdered, clues point to disgraced criminal lawyer and political activist Eddie Pitkin, who happens to be black. Hartman, who has a close friend related to Pitkin, investigates and soon becomes enmeshed in a media storm centered on the apparently wrongful arrest of yet another black man and gross police misconduct. Examining the underbelly of Louisiana culture, Hartman discovers more than a few closed-minded people with highly dangerous agendas. The action builds to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion, and the emotionally muted writing style doesn't help matters. Not many readers will feel like following Hartman's further adventures.)