Friday, April 21, 2023

A River of Crows by Shanessa Gluhm Blog Tour Book Review

A River of Crows

by Shanessa Gluhm

April 17-28, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


In 1988, Sloan Hadfield’s brother Ridge went fishing with their father and never came home. Their father, a good-natured Vietnam veteran prone to violent outbursts, was arrested and charged with murder. Ridge’s body was never recovered, and Sloan’s mother— a brilliant ornithologist— slowly descended into madness, insisting her son was still alive.

Now twenty years later, Sloan’s life is unraveling. In the middle of a bitter divorce, she’s forced to return to her rural Texas hometown when her mother is discharged from a mental health facility.

Overwhelmed by memories and unanswered questions, Sloan returns to the last place her brother was seen all those years ago: Crow’s Nest Creek. There, she is shocked to hear a crow murmuring the same syllable over and over: Ridge, Ridge, Ridge.

When the body of another boy is found, Sloan begins to question what really happened to her brother all those years ago. What she discovers will shock her small community and turn her family upside down.

Praise for A River of Crows:

“In A River of Crows, Shanessa Gluhm spins a complex web of murder and family revelation that propels the reader forward at a breakneck pace. Just when you think you know where the story is headed, she reveals another thread. If you haven’t yet read Shanessa Gluhm, you need to put her on your to-be-read list.”
~ Allen Eskens, USA Today bestselling author of The Life We Bury

"A twisted family dynamic and complex personal history combine with a touch of romance in Shanessa Gluhm’s knockout second novel. A River of Crows grabs on with the opening pages and holds a reader tight to the very end."
~ Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell, author of All We Buried and the Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet) series

"A River of Crows is a superb second novel that shows Shanessa Gluhm is a naturally gifted storyteller and writer, on a par with all the greats."
~ Rob Samborn, author of The Prisoner of Paradise and Painter of the Damned

"Shanessa Gluhm crafts a thought-provoking story of revelation, family ties, discovery, and murder... Readers who choose A River of Crows for its mystery will find an unexpected draw and value in the emotional components which keep the plot action-packed and charged with transformation."
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"Gluhm peels away layers of family secrets in this dual timeline narrative, right up until the climactic final reveal, a twist that truly surprised me. Well done!"
~ Laura Kemp, award-winning author of the Lantern Creek Series

A River of Crows Trailer:

My Review:

Gluhm has crafted a complex mystery revolving around deception, secrets, dysfunction, mental illness, and revenge. All is not as it seems, from the first page to nearly the end. There are twists and surprises galore.

I found Sloan, the main character, a bit hard to like. She is flawed, as are so many in this novel. I know she had a tough life and had just been dealt another hard blow but I would have liked a less demanding and more giving person. I actually did not like any of the characters except perhaps Dylan. Dysfunctional life was the basis of so many of them.

The structure of the narrative went back and forth from 1988 to 2008. We gradually find the truth about past events as they are revealed in the earlier scenes. I do feel going back and forth does not make for a smooth flow of action, but this plot is so complex, I am not sure merely using flashbacks would have worked. The time periods are clearly designated so there was no confusion there.

Gluhm's writing style is good and the action and character thought were clearly presented. I really liked all the interesting information about crows. Their presence was a good thread throughout. Overall, I did like the mystery and its resolution and will be looking for more from Gluhm.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: TouchPoint Press
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 427
ISBN: 978-1956851588
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Mud squished under Sloan’s brown Doc Martens as she climbed the steep ridge. She had run up this incline ten thousand times but wasn’t as surefooted now.

Sloan’s shirt clung to her back and her hair was already frizzing. “We’re in for another hot summer,” the friendly postal worker told her yesterday. As if there was a different kind of summer here in East Texas.

The water moved slowly today, trickling around massive boulders in the middle of the wide river. It was the kind of sound that soothed people, the peaceful noises they played when getting a massage or trying to fall asleep. In a few more months it would be difficult to even hear the water over the sound of the crows. That was a sound nobody could fall asleep to.

Not much about the river had changed. Sloan’s favorite climbing tree still stood; its limbs just as gnarled as she remembered them. If she closed her eyes, she could still see a pink glittery Easter egg in the crook of a branch, the last one she’d found the year they hunted eggs here.

A moss-covered fallen tree trunk she remembered was still here too. How many times had she, Ridge, and Noah balanced on it? The same trail still cut through the tall, pinecone-littered grass— the one made by animals visiting the water’s edge. Bits of tinfoil and leftover plastic baggies from picnics still littered the bank.

Sloan peered into the creek. Minnows flashed beneath the surface and brought back a memory. She was a toddler wading in the ford of the river, holding hands with both her parents, splashing and singing “Ring Around the Rosie.” They were laughing. They were happy.

Hard to believe this peaceful place was the site of her brother’s death. Of course, the water hadn’t been peaceful that day. It had rained for weeks and the creek raged. But it hadn’t been the creek that took Ridge’s life. It was their father.

Sloan closed her eyes to stop her tears. She inhaled, breathing in wet earth and rotting bark. Now was no time for a panic attack.

She sat down and touched the water. They’d never found her brother’s body, just a shoe, a piece of his torn t-shirt, and the god-awful green beanie he loved so much. And, of course, his blood. “Where did you go, Ridge?” Sloan asked her reflection.

A crow cawed loudly from a tree. Sloan wondered if her mom had been out here yet to look for nests, wondered if she even cared to anymore. Sloan stood. Only one way to find out, and she couldn’t put it off any longer.


Excerpt from A River of Crows by Shanessa Gluhm. Copyright 2023 by Shanessa Gluhm. Reproduced with permission from Shanessa Gluhm. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Shanessa Gluhm works as a librarian at an elementary school in New Mexico where she lives with her husband and children. It was during her own elementary days when a teacher encouraged Shanessa to share a story she wrote called, “Piggy the Kid” with the class. They asked for a sequel and she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her debut novel, Enemies of Doves was an IAN Book of the Year Finalist in the category of first novel, an NIEA Finalist for cross-genre fiction, and first place winner in the Chanticleer Clue Awards for mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction.

When Shanessa is not writing she enjoys bird-watching, reading, and watching true crime documentaries. Shanessa loves to hear from her readers and the best way to connect is via e-mail or her Facebook page.

Catch Up With Shanessa Gluhm:
BookBub - @shanessalashea
Instagram - @shanessagluhmauthor
Twitter - @GluhmShanessa
Facebook - @authorshanessagluhm
& check out Readers' Roost, the Shanessa Gluhm Books Street Team Facebook Group!


Tour Participants:

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)


Wall-to-wall books said...

Thanks for the review. This sounds like a great book to me!

Gina @ Hott Books said...

Wow! It's a great author that can create characters that you don't like but still want to finish this book and read more of her works. I'll definitely be grabbing a copy. Thanks for sharing, Joan!