After the death of her daughter, college professor Nancy Lewis’ life hasn’t been the same. But on the night she’s denied tenure, things take a turn for the worse and she becomes the prime suspect in the death of one of her own students. But Nancy soon realizes that there’s more to the accident than meets the eye, and in River Road by Carol Goodman almost everyone becomes a suspect in this icy winter mystery, where the plot twists are as vicious as the sharp turns down a winding road.

“This place. How many lives had it taken? I should have been driving slower. But there was nothing I could do now.”

Immediately when you meet the character Nancy – or Nan, as she calls herself – you sympathize with her struggles – her husband long gone since the death of her daughter many years prior, she was denied tenure, and still living in the house where it all played out. So, the reader will understand why she’s struggling like she is, yet you root for her (and even get mad at her) all at the same time, hoping she will finally take control of her life. The characterization of Nan is strong within the novel and although the book can take on a typical “whodunit” plot, the mystery behind the accident takes hold and you are right along with Nan as she uncovers what exactly happened and whether or not she was the one to blame. The list of suspects is certainly not short and like playing a game of clue, you become suspicious of everyone. Also, the setting plays a strong part in the vivid qualities of the novel since winter has hit this northeastern small town hard, making the world revolving around Nan seem colder and even more isolated as the story continues.

River Road is a must read for mystery novel enthusiasts. Author Carol Goodman’s vivid winter setting and surreal imagery enhance this mystery filled with hauntings and troubles of the past and present.