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River of Souls by Kate Rhodes – a review

This is apparently Kate Rhodes’ 4th novel to feature psychologist Alice, however its the first one I’ve read. She is appearing at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in a session on the Sunday called ‘Political corruption’

River of Souls is set in London along the banks of the river Thames. Jude Shelley is the daughter of a government minister. She was found in the river having been brutally attacked and missing half her face. She has survived in hospital for nearly a year when Alice is asked to reinvestigate the case. As she does other bodies start turning up and Alice soon realises that someone has a dangerous fascination with the river and with Jude.

This was a book that hooked me right from the beginning. It was a really good balance between the crimes and investigation, a bit of history of the Thames and also a bit of the background life of Alice. Often with crime novels I can be impatient to skip over details of family life and get on with the murders but in this case I thought the back story of Alice’s mother, brother and best friend was interesting. It gave a good insight into the pressures that Alice was under and why she made some of the decisions she did. The characters also provided a nice contrast to the darker side of the book.

The writing was good and I enjoyed the style of it. There were some chapters from the killer’s point of view which I always like. They also served to throw me off the real perpetrator – I spent the whole book convinced it was one person only to be completely wrong. The descriptions were vivid and the scenes between Alice and Jude in the hospital really stood out. If I was to have any slight negatives it is that the novel did seem a little dragged out at the end and there were a few elements where it seemed to be a little repetitive. However on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed River of Souls and will definitely be reading the series from the beginning. I’m looking forward to hearing her talk alongside Gillian Slovo and Mark Lawson among others.

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