Book review: 'River Whispers' offers intrigue and romance

By Cecily Markland

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 30 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"RIVER WHISPERS," by Kathi Oram Peterson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 228 pages (f)

Author Kathi Oram Peterson demonstrates her range of writing skills and her ability to craft a captivating read in her recently released suspense novel, “River Whispers.”

Combining subtle contrasts, well-crafted characters and interesting twists, “River Whispers” is a fingernail-biting romantic mystery that keeps readers unraveling clues until the end.

Known for her two young adult time-travel books, “The Forgotten Warrior” and “The Stone Traveler,” and a best-selling Christmas book, “An Angel on Main Street,” Peterson says her venture into romantic suspense was not that much of a stretch.

“I really love intrigue and suspense,” she said in an interview posted on YouTube.

In “River Whispers,” Peterson artfully develops that suspense using a combination of opposing factors.

Included in the mix of polarities is the setting of the mystery itself. Regina “Regi” Bernhard happens upon a gruesome find — a bloody body — in the very place she has gone to find solace — one of her favorite fly-fishing spots on the beautiful banks of the Snake River just outside her small hometown.

Regi, a confident, well-liked widow and mother of two grown children, has recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, she seems an unlikely murder suspect; yet, when the body turns out to be her known enemy, park ranger Curtis Romney, and when every lead points directly to her, Regi knows she’s in trouble.

To those beginnings, Peterson adds another strong character and another opposite in Samuel Tanner. Sam and Regi, once high school sweethearts, are at opposing ends of the spectrum, separated by years of distrust, yet pushed together in a race to solve the murder.

Unsure of who she can trust and with her heart and her newfound faith tested to the limits, Regi is determined to unravel the truth before her own life is undone.

Peterson does a nice job with her descriptions of the action, the small-town atmosphere and the beauty of the setting along the Snake River. She portrays true-to-life traits in each of the characters she introduces as the story progresses.

In a few places, the action is a little too coincidental and the romance a little too predictable. Still, the strong characters, storytelling, and interesting twists and turns in the plot more than make up for these few minor flaws. With a book like “River Whispers,” readers will close the last page wanting to experience yet another from this author. Gratefully, Peterson has that goal in mind.

“Writing is part of who I am,” she said. “I can one day be writing about chariot racing in Rome and the next day be writing about fly-fishing, or go back to 1776. Writing has opened the world for me.”

Cecily Markland is a freelance writer, book editor, publicist and author of "Hope: One Mile Ahead" and the children’s book, "If I Made a Bug." She owns Inglestone Publishing and produces a calendar of LDS events in Arizona on www.cecilymarkland.com

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