River of Salt, by Dave Warner
Review by Kris Williams
We first meet Blake Saunders and his brother Jimmy in Philadelphia in 1961 where they are both working for the mob. Blake is a hitman, a very good one, though he doesn’t enjoy it. Jimmy is always looking for the next big thing that will make them rich. When Jimmy crosses the mob and gets them both into trouble, the only way Blake can escape is to betray him.
Two years later Blake has made a new life for himself in Australia. He surfs, plays guitar in his own band, and has people he cares about - Doreen who manages the bar, Andy who works for him and his band mates Duck and Panza. He owns the Surf Shack bar in the small coastal town of Coral Shoals and pays the local constable to turns a blind eye when necessary so the bar has no trouble.
While he can’t forget his past or his brother, his life now has some order, that is, until a series of events result in Blake questioning who he is, who he wants to be, and what it will take to get his world back in order. The brutal murder of a young woman at a local motel is linked back to the Surf Shack. Coral Shoals no longer feels like paradise as everyone is scared that there is a killer on the loose. A man who works for Blake is arrested and the only policeman in town is not interested in finding the real killer even though Blake knows his friend is innocent. Blake decides to follow the clues and find the murderer on his own. ”But as Blake begins peeling back Coral Shoals’ idyllic veneer to expose the dark secrets lurking beneath, his own dark past resurfaces, too – with terrifying, life-threatening consequences.”
There are twists and turns to keep you guessing right up to the end. Warner also takes the time to ‘flesh out’ the stories of the other main characters making you interested in what happens to them. He also manages to evoke the early sixties. The sun, surf and songs of a time on the verge of change.
If I had any criticism of the writing it would be the overuse of similes, otherwise a good read.
Publication Date: 2nd April 2019
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Category: Fiction Crime