Down To The River, edited by Tim O’Mara, is recently released anthology from Down & Out Books. The authors in this anthology donated their stories to raise funds for “American Rivers” which is a group that helps maintain and protect the nation’s rivers and waterways. As is made clear on the cover, each story is supposed to be a crime fiction.

After a short introduction by Hank Phillips Ryan and a foreword by Editor Tim O’Mara, it is time for the stories. Jessie Chandler leads things off with “A Rocky Road at Interstate Park.” It is autumn in the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota and a small group of friends arrives at Interstate Park. The state park is busy and before long the group splits up with various members going their various ways. Eventually, one of the group is alone when she witnesses things getting very heated between a couple. Unfortunately for Shay, the male of the couple has been a problem for her before and is going to be again.


He is a long way from Montana and is the newest member of the Tree County Sheriff’s Department. A Sergeant in the Cape Harbor Marine Unit, and stationed on the Caloosahatchee River, he is new and a target of constant criticism by his partner, Deputy Sutphin. The cold couldn’t follow him to Fort Myers, Florida, but a murderer might have done so in “A Tale Of Two Rivers” by John Keyse- Walker.


“Blue Song, Edged in Woe” by Patricia Smith and her husband, Bruce DeSilvia, comes next with more than a hint of the paranormal. The river has been around for a very long time and knows the girl is special. The river will do what it needs to in her time of need.


Readers move on from the Black Stone River to another famous river in the “Bronx River Elegey” by Scott Adlerberg. The river cuts through the zoo and a certain spot holds memories all these years later. What happens in your childhood carries far forward in time to when you are a parent. It is time for one final trip to a certain spot to say hello and goodbye.


When you are homeless and need a secluded place to stay, the shoreline of the Agnes P. Wotherwill estate in Connecticut makes for a great spot. One does have to be careful and share it with a few other people who have also found their way here. The “Grouchy Witch” is a person to be avoided if at all possible. He does so until he can’t in “Catch and Release” by Chris Knopf.


It is August 2014 in Gallagher, Virginia, as “Eel’s Blood” by Frankie Y. Bailey begins. Dr. Stuart has plenty to do and that was before Ashely Pollard brought a cold case to his attention. The case dates back to 1954 and the time factor is just one of many complications.


Chucky should have stuck to the deal. He didn’t because he got stupid and greedy. Now he is dead in “Fifty-Fifty” by Tim O’Mara and that creates a new problem for Turkey have to deal with at the end of an already long day in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Eric Beetner is up next with “Fish Belly White.” Denver’s capsized boat has washed ashore. Denver, legendary for his catfishing, is missing and has been for a week now. Not only is he missing, so is his stepdaughter.


As the only female officer in the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Squad, Sheriff Deputy Haley Davidson has her hands full with a little 12 year old girl who has suddenly become parentless. Her extra training on the Victim Response Team is not helping her as the little girl won’t leave her “Inheritance.” This tale by Eric Gardner packs quite a punch.


Charles Salzberg and “NO Good Deed” is up next and takes readers to the East River and Winter. Ralph needed a favor done and against his better judgement, the narrator agreed. Now he is out at ten at night in the freezing cold trying to pass on an envelope to somebody he has never met before at a place he has never been.


Next it is off to Runyon Lake in Southern Colorado by way of “Optimize Us” by Maria Kelson. Imagine a story of Fit Bit type deal on steroids and this is what you have here as technology seeks to improve relationships and remove obstacles. People can be a problem.


When they were kids, they hung out at the river in “Requiem For Dirty Water” by Clea Simon. You could do that back then before things got crazy. It all changed around Fenway and this is a story of the past and the way things were back then.


“Tarentum Bridge” by Dana King features Ben “Doc” Dougherty eating lunch alone at a Long John Slivers and all was fine until the sirens started. He is going to have to go over and see if he can get the jumper off the bridge before he tries to take his own life.


You make choices in life and those choices have consequences. Those consequences often are outside our legal system. Justice can come in many forms as John B. Wren’s short story, “The Chair In The River” points out. Like the “Inheritance” did, this story also packs quite the punch in a far different way.


It is 1986 and the young people are on a trip to Washington, D.C., in “The Great Emancipator” by Mike Veve. They see a lot as they make a much needed beer run.


The mines abuse the heck out of the Dog Paige River. Not that it is really much of a river most of the year. In “The Righter Side” by Reed Farrel Coleman, Peter William Frame does what he needs to in order to survive. Just like everyone else on both sides of the river.


Kyle and the narrator are about a half hour outside of Cincinnati in “The River Freezes” by M. Wallace Herron. They are there to do as TV interview with an elderly gentleman by the name of Lem Dixon. For the second time in the last sixty years, the Ohio River is about to freeze over. Lem was there before when it did that in 1917 and they want Lem to talk about how it was back then. That isn’t all he will talk about.


When they moved to Wichita, Kansas, they knew things would be way different. They did not know there was a serial killer at work and one that had killed at least eight times before the family moved to their new place. There was a serial killer at work and that fact and more is explained in “The Riverfest” by Julia McDermott.


Somebody tried to drown her in the river and, somehow, she is still alive. The water is cold and she is in real trouble in “Tonight Wasn’t Her Night To Die” by Marcie Rendon.


After the funeral, a walk with her friend Amy is what the narrator has in her mind. The deaths have come, one after another and each one has rocked her world. She feels so very lonely. That walk leads to a bar along the Hudson and more in “Waves” by Christina Chiu.


Carlos thought he had pulled it off in “Where Are The Boats?” by Puja Guha. Everything had gone to plan the last several days outside Arches National Park and no one was the wiser. Everything was fine. Then the rains set in as did the complications.


Elizabeth is back in Natchez on a case in “Wrath, Chapter 61” by Tom Lowe. The past haunts her as it does the current case. The Mississippi River has seen much history and will do so again.


Also included in the eBook version of the anthology are previews of other books from this publisher. The first two chapters of Silent Remains by Jerry Kennealy are followed by the first chapter of  It’s Not My Cult! A. X. Kalinchuk and the first chapter of The Pyongyang Option by A. C. Frieden.


A mix of crime fiction and stories that I would classify as more literary type tales that are not crime fiction per se, Down To The River is an interesting anthology. All the stories share a common theme of the importance of a river in each tale. In some, a river or waterway, is a major character and has a distinct life of its own. In other tales, a river is more of a secondary character and is always present and in the background. In all cases, the tale is a good one and well worthy your time.


Down To The River

Editor Tim O’Mara

Down & Out Books

April 2019


eBook (also available in paperback format)

242 Pages




I purchased the eBook version of this book on April 22, 2019, by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account in order to read and review. Yes, like everything I do review wise, it took quite some time.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2019

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