Winter onboard a narrowboat can be a cold and lonely affair and Jack Johnson is keen to catch up with Nina Wilde, who has moved to Oxford to be near her niece, Anna, an undergraduate at the university, and rekindle the spark of their on-and-off relationship. However, Jack’s relief at seeing Nina is soon tempered. Rather than growing closer, they seem to be drifting apart. Throwing himself into the search for a job, and the company of his new neighbours on the towpath of the River Isis, he’s soon distracted by the comings and goings on the nearby barges.
But then a young girl’s body is dragged up from Iffley Lock by magnet fishermen and Caleb Hopper her boyfriend, and a classmate of Anna’s falls under suspicion. Nina is determined to help the young man, a member of the prestigious Blues Boat rowing team, devastated by his girlfriend’s death. Jack is reluctantly pulled into the investigation in Nina’s wake. But at what price?
ANDY GRIFFEE is a former BBC journalist and media consultant with a fascination for stories. He began his journalism career at the Bath Evening Chronicle and then spent twenty-five years at the BBC, culminating in his role as Editorial Director of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House.
Andy lives in Worcestershire and, when he isn’t writing, rears rare breed pigs, struggles to keep a 1964 Triumph Spitfire on the road and enjoys hiring narrowboats with his wife Helen.
Jack Johnson, ex-journalist, newly divorced and feeling unmoored, has bought a 64-foot narrowboat with absolutely no idea how to captain it. So when an attractive stranger takes pity on his dismal attempts and comes aboard to assist him manoeuvre, Jack is only too happy to make her welcome. But it’s soon apparent that Nina is keeping her own secrets and when they stumble into a murder investigation the past begins to intrude. What’s Nina afraid of? And who is stalking the towpaths?
Jack Johnson has a talent for trouble – wherever he goes on his narrowboat, it seems to follow him. Moored up on the River Avon in the beautiful Georgian surroundings of Bath, he’s working at the local paper when a prominent magistrate and heritage campaigner is attacked and drowned. Could it be a serial killer copying the Canal Pusher? Or a biker gang who swore revenge on the magistrate? Against his wishes, Jack is pulled into the investigation by his ambitious editor who wants the scoop. Jack and his friend, Nina Wilde, have also been drawn into another struggle. The moorings of a small settled boating community sit alongside a huge former industrial site that property developers want to fill with luxury housing. Nearby residents are enlisted to petition against the boat people, and as the campaign spirals out of control, lives are threatened. Who is helping their enemies? Another gripping tale of corruption and intrigue from the riverbank, full of dark waters and deadly secrets.
I received copies of these books from the author in return for honest reviews.
A new crime series is exciting, especially when it’s full of rich characterisation and originality. Jack Johnson is newly divorced and still reeling from the emotional and financial implications. Living on a narrowboat is not his first choice, but at least it’s cheap and will give him a place to live and work.
A freelance journalist he has a keen eye for crime, which comes in useful in this series. A complete novice at boating his serendipitous meeting with Nina leads to an unusual but mutually beneficial friendship. Nina has secrets which reveal themselves as the story progresses.
There is a sinister point of view that adds a noir element and draws the intrepid couple into a dangerous investigation. Jack and Nina are complex, relatable protagonists.
The suspenseful plot is well written. The setting is authentic and full of vivid imagery, in stark contrast to the dark crimes committed.
River Rats fulfils the potential suggested in Canal Pushers. Jack has moved down to Bath and is working at the local newspaper for an ambitious editor with dubious scruples. A suspicious death draws Jack and Nina into another dark investigation. Unscrupulous developers threaten a community of boaters and Jack and Nina search for the truth.
The characters continue to develop realistically in a multilayered plot. The setting is easy to visualise and gives the story its uniqueness.
Andy Griffee is a former BBC journalist and media consultant with a fascination for stories. He began his journalism career at the Bath Evening Chronicle, and then spent twenty-five years at the BBC, culminating in his role as Editorial Director of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House. Andy lives in Worcestershire and, when he isn’t writing, rears rare breed pigs, struggles to keep a 1964 Triumph Spitfire on the road and enjoys hiring narrowboats with his wife Helen.