The River Mouth is a gripping debut novel from Karen Herbert, exploring secrets between children and parents, and a murder that reopens the wounds of a remote Pilbara town.
Fifteen-year-old Darren Davies is found face down in the Weymouth River with a gunshot wound to his chest. The killer is never found.
Ten years later, his mother Sandra receives a visit from the local police. Sandra’s best friend has been found dead on a remote Pilbara road, and Barbara’s DNA matches the DNA found under Darren’s fingernails. When the investigation into her son’s murder is reopened, Sandra begins to question what she knew about her best friend. As she digs, she discovers that there are many secrets in her small town and that her murdered son had secrets too.
The River Mouth is the kind of crime novel which hooks you in from the first chapter and doesn’t let up until the very end. The novel predominately follows Sandra’s perspective in the present day, when the death of her best friend Barbara causes their small town to become rife with suspicion. Sandra is still grieving the loss of her son ten years on and struggling with the fact that the killer was never discovered. Alternating chapters return to the weeks before Darren’s death, following Darren and his friends, including Barbara’s son Colin, as they get up to teenage mischief. Sandra slowly learns things about her son and his friends that will shake her memories and beliefs of what happened ten years ago.
The novel is set in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which is brought vividly to life here. Herbert herself grew up in this region, and she draws on this experience when describing the river, the surrounding clifftops, and bushland. However, the beauty of the area is tainted with a sense of unease due to the violent incidents that occurred there.
The novel is rife in small-town intrigue, and Herbert explores how this manifests itself in rumours, suspicion, and heartbreak. She weaves together the lives of the locals into a complicated web, ensuring that you will not trust any of the characters – including the narrators – keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
The River Mouth is an impressive debut novel, which fans of Australian crime fiction, especially the rural variety, will devour.
Acknowledgment of Cultural Fund support
Better Reading acknowledges the support provided by Copyright Agency for us to promote The River Mouth.