Summary: A stunningly complex and atmospheric crime novel from Edgar Award–winning author Meg Gardiner, Ransom River features a deeply flawed, compelling heroine, a murder trial, and the long-unsolved mystery it exposes.
Rory Mackenzie is juror number seven on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, after leaving behind its surfeit of regret and misfortune and the specter of a troubled past that threatened to disturb the town’s peaceful façade.
Brilliant yet guarded, Rory has always felt like an outsider. She retreated into herself when both her career aspirations and her love affair with a childhood friend, undercover cop Seth Colder, were destroyed in a tragic accident.
While most of the town is focused on the tense and shocking circumstances of the trial, Rory’s return to Ransom River dredges up troubling memories from her childhood that she can no longer ignore. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.
Departing from her popular series novels, Meg Gardiner has gone deeper than ever into the utterly convincing lives and compelling pasts of her characters. Ransom River is an intimate crime thriller with a dark mystery at its heart—one that will keep readers breathless until the very last page. ~blurb
Jenn's Review: Oh, how I love Meg Gardiner's books! She writes fantastic suspense novels with edgy, strong women. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to reading this one... except that reading it means I only have one unread Meg Gardiner book on my shelf and I do like to save them to savor.
The book begins with a snippet of Rory's childhood. I was actually a little worried about where things were headed at first, but I shouldn't have been. It is just one piece in the twisted jigsaw puzzle that is Rory's past. From the outset, the attack on the courthouse seems ...wrong. Honestly, I was just as surprised as Rory when things turned ugly at the police station.
And then we meet Seth. I love the way Ms. Gardiner can take two people, rip them apart, mangle them, and then see how or if they fit back together again. Life is messy. Things happen. It's how you pick yourself up and move on that matters... and sometimes people can move with you, and sometimes circumstances make them move back towards you. This is Ms. Gardiner's greatest talent... next to writing thrilling, suspenseful, parts that won't let you stop turning pages. Seth and Rory have a history and it's ugly, and though Rory may think she's left it behind, her current situation leaves her no choice but to revisit.
Truly, I had no idea where things were headed. It's awesome that Meg Gardiner can still keep me guessing after all this time. There is twisty surprise after twisty surprise and very few that I saw a few things coming. I've learned not to jump to conclusions and just let things play out, because nothing is ever quite what it seems. I think things were more neatly wrapped up than most of her other novels, but that is probably because it's currently a standalone. Yes, there is enough loose thread at the end to pick up and keep going, but it also feels perfectly all right that things are left as they are.
We gush about Meg Gardiner around here. We do. (Fact: I did not read Julie's review before writing mine.) I can count on one hand the number of authors whose works I feel that way about. I can't encourage you enough to pick up one of her novels.
Jenn's Final Take: 5/5
Julie's Review: Meg, thank you for writing another strong yet emotionally scared woman. I absolutely adored Rory. I loved how she fought back against the allegations that were going to come at her but she didn't put herself in situations that she couldn't handle.
In the beginning of the book, because you aren't yet familiar and trusting of Rory, you do wonder if she's involved the courthouse attack. It's not too soon after that you figure out that it is what it seems, wrong place wrong time. Until of course you walk the plank with Rory and figure out that it is much, much more than that.
What Ms. Gardiner does extremely well is she keeps you guessing about everything plus she add a little of electricity between Rory and Seth to keep that subplot humming. Seth is everything you want in a sexy, bad boy except he's not really a bad boy. He only seems like it and perhaps he's a little reckless but that's what makes him appealing. The problem is that he was reckless when Rory was with him and it caused her a lot of pain. It is what made her leave Ransom River.
This is a fast-paced mystery/thriller that keeps you guessing until the final pages of the novel. There is a definite cast of characters who are both crazy and evil; some of them are related to Rory. I did guess a couple of the twists that were coming but again it didn't diminish the story for me. I couldn't wait to see how Ms. Gardiner would unravel them. I don't want to say too much to ruin the novel for you guys, so I'll just stop here.
Again, if you haven't read a Meg Gardiner book, (why haven't you!?), Ransom River is the perfect one to start with since it's a stand alone novel. Although, this reader is hoping to read about Rory and Seth sometime in the future.
Julie's Final Take: 5/5
Julie wants to thank Dutton Publishing Group for her copy of the novel.