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The River of Souls by Robert McCammon

The River of Souls (2014)

by Robert McCammon

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Matthew Corbett is a professional problem solver, similar to what we might call a private investigator. Executing his duties he’s faced his fair share of danger. He’s also faced his share of people preferring he keep his nose out of their business.

Matthew, after some cajoling, accepts a commission to travel to Charlestown to act as escort to a rich man’s daughter. Matthew suspects she’s as ugly as they come and is the reason for the extravagance of paying a man to come all the way from New York. Little does he know, what the real reason is.

After an exciting night of truths being revealed as an escort, Matthew decides to call upon the previous nights visitor and entertainment to offer some advice. Then, being in the wrong place (or right depending on your point of view) and he is swept up in an adventure to capture the murderer of a lovely young lady, that pushes his physical, emotional and mental limits. He comes out a changed man. More changed than he ever realizes.

I really like the character Matthew Corbett, and I plan to try another one of his stories. I am intrigued by the hints of back story of previous adventures. I would say that you don’t really need to read any of the previous books in the series, but I would still recommend starting earlier. With the ending as it was, I will say this is the latest book in the series to begin. Well written, though some of the descriptions I felt were a little long, especially for some of the bit characters who were there long enough to perish. I will say I didn’t like the ending at all. ( )
  readafew | Aug 2, 2014 |
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. When I got this book for review I did not realize that it is the fifth book in the Matthew Corbett series. I would recommend reading the previous books before this one, there are a lot of references to events in past books that I found hard to follow.

The story was incredibly simple. Basically Matthew takes what should be a straight-forward job escorting a beautiful girl to a country ball. However the next day a young woman is murdered and a young slave is blamed. Matthew is determined to find out the truth.

As mentioned above, I did not realize this was part of a series until I started reading it. The main story was fairly self-contained, but there are a lot of references to events that happened in past books. There are also a lot of names of past characters thrown around, the whole time I felt like I was kind of missing something. So I personally would recommend reading previous books first.

Matthew figures out who the murderer is incredibly quickly. Then he journeys with some others down the Solstice River (the River of Souls)to find the fled slave and prevent the slave from being hunted down and killed. It's a very treacherous journey.

The plot was very predictable and very straight-forward. There weren't really any of the twists and turns I expect of a good mystery. I did enjoy some of the description of the journey and dangers along the river. Although there were a few things (like the strange beast that cries in the woods) that were just odd and I didn't understand why they were included.

I also didn't find any of the characters all that engaging. Matthew was okay, he seems to be one of those characters that is smart, resourceful, and can take a licking and keep on ticking. Still, by the end of the book I wasn't dying to read more about him.

The book ended with a bit of a cliffhanger and sets Matthew up for his next adventure. Really the whole story seemed like something that was more of a novella, and could have been novella length, without losing a lot of the story.

Overall this was an okay read. I enjoyed the swamp setting and some of the descriptions of it. I liked that this took place in the Old South. The characters were okay but not all that engaging. The plot was very simple and straight-forward for a mystery. By the end of the book I was kind of like “Eh, okay well that’s over and I won’t be reading any more of those”. It wasn’t a horrible book, but it wasn’t anything all that great either. ( )
  krau0098 | May 19, 2014 |
McCammon’s latest Matthew Corbett chronicle is a hair-raising story of murder in a setting not unlike Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. ‘The River of Souls’ is the fifth book in a series set in early Colonial America. Readers like me who haven’t read and of the previous adventures of Matthew Corbett might want to consider starting with book one in the series (Speaks the Nightbird) to fully appreciate the series’ story line. The River of Souls can be read and enjoyed if read on independently but there are quite a few references to characters and events in previous volumes that went over my head.
Some may refer to this book as historical fiction but I’m not convinced that McCammon put enough research into the book for it to deserve the ‘historical’ appellation. Many things said in the book are either unlikely or just plain incorrect from a historical standpoint. For example, everal characters in the book state that teaching slaves to read was illegal but no such laws were passed in North Carolina until after the Stono slave rebellion 1740.

Even though the book was not classified as a young adult novel, it read like one until late into the book when the language bumped it out of its PG rating.

Bottom line: While I enjoyed much of the book, I was ultimately disappointed. I had heard so many positive things about Robert McCammon’s books that I expected a quality in writing that I just didn’t see here. The writing style seemed somehow stilted although I can’t quite explain what gives me that impression. More troubling, though, is that the events described and the characters’ behaviors just don’t ring true. Ultimately, I couldn’t buy into the story and if you can’t get wrapped up in a story, it will never win you over.

I will likely give McCammon another chance but this first experience with his books was not too encouraging.

*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review book was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review. ( )
  Unkletom | Apr 27, 2014 |
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"The year is 1703. The place: the Carolina settlement of Charles Town. Matthew Corbett, professional "problem solver," has accepted a lucrative, if unusual, commission: escorting a beautiful woman to a fancy dress ball. What should be a pleasant assignment takes a darker turn when Matthew becomes involved in a murder investigation. A sixteen-year-old girl has been stabbed to death on the grounds of a local plantation. The suspected killer is a slave who has escaped, with two family members, into the dubious protection of a nearby swamp. Troubled by certain discrepancies and determined to see some sort of justice done, Matthew joins the hunt for the runaway slaves. He embarks on a treacherous journey up the Solstice River, also known as the River of Souls. He discovers that something born of the swamp has joined the hunt... and is stalking the hunters with more than murder in mind. What follows is a shattering ordeal encompassing snakes, alligators, exiled savages, mythical beasts, and ordinary human treachery. The journey up the River of Souls will test the limits of Matthew's endurance, and lead him through a nightmarish passage to a confrontation with his past, and a moment that will alter his life forever" --… (more)

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