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Extended Audio Sample River of Darkness, by Rennie Airth Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,778 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rennie Airth Narrator: Christopher Kay Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The John Madden Mysteries Release Date: December 2012 ISBN: 9781449853433
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Upon its original publication, River of Darkness awed readers who look for intelligent, well-plotted psychological mysteries. This “fine, frightening piece of work” (Kirkus Reviews) introduces Detective Inspector John Madden of Scotland Yard.

In the years following World War I, Detective Inspector Madden is sent to Surrey to investigate a particularly gruesome attack—the bloodied bodies of Colonel Fletcher, his wife, and two staff members. The local police dismiss the slaughter as a botched robbery, but Madden detects the signs of a madman at work. With the help of Dr. Helen Blackwell, who introduces him to the latest developments in criminal psychology, Madden sets out to identify and capture the killer, even as the murderer sets his sights on his next innocent victims.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It’s the tactics and terrain, the morale and the characters that make the difference between an average thriller and one as good as this.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “One of the best mysteries I have read in years.”

    Donald M. Murray, Boston Globe

  • “A tense and suspense-filled reading experience...River of Darkness is compelling reading.”

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • River of Darkness vividly recreates the post-World War I era, and Airth’s descriptions of the early use of psychology in crime solving are fascinating.” 

    RT Book Reviews

  • “Inspector John Madden is precisely the type of multifaceted and complex character readers will enjoy meeting time and again...This series promises to be the start of a powerful new niche in psychological suspense, a uniquely fresh voice that will stand out among the crowd.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “Rennie Airth takes what at first seems to be a twenties drawing-room murder mystery and transforms it into an edge-of-the-seat serial killer thriller. Compelling stuff.”

    Robert Goddard, author of Fault Line

  • “Set in lovely green Surrey of 1921, this brilliant psychological thriller is not only a white knuckler but also a delight in the details...Chilling and totally engrossing, this should be on every brave someone’s reading list...Christopher Kay narrates with an ease that makes him somehow invisible between the text and the listener.”

    AudioFile

  • “[A]...smart, well-plotted psychological mystery.”

    Booklist

  • “Airth develops a situation that presages today’s much-touted psychological profiling and serves to build an almost excruciatingly suspenseful plot. In addition, his deft handling of the emotional aftereffects of war gives the work an added sense of purpose.”

    Library Journal

  • “A fine, frightening piece of work. One looks forward to meeting Inspector John Madden again soon.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joan | 2/6/2014

    " A very good book. Anyone interested in the effects of the Great War, will find this a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 2/4/2014

    " I seldom give 5 stars to a mystery novel but this one really captured my imagination. Taking place immediately following WWI in which the main character, DI John Madden, was a combatant, the story visits the psychological damage done to the soldiers that survived..... in this case, both the detective and the killer. A series of senseless and gory murders are occurring which have a definite pattern which point to a disturbed man with a military background. But who is it and where will he strike next? The author does not stint on the day-to-day grunt work necessary in the case but keeps it interesting. I found this a fascinating book and am already looking forward to reading the second installment of the John Madden series The Blood-Dimmed Tide. I highly recommend this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Therese | 2/1/2014

    " Excellent mystery! I found this book in an article about non-American writers. This book is a first in the series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 1/28/2014

    " England between the wars is a setting that I somehow find hard to resist. There is something about the devastation of a whole generation and the struggles of those who remain that lend every plot an additional edge. This is especially true in the crime fiction set in this period, such as the series books by Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear, both of which deal with characters struggling with the psychological havoc of WWI. This novel is another fine addition to this historical mystery subgenre. It focuses on the investigation of a brutal murder in the British countryside that appears to be the work of a former WWI soldier. Another vet, an Inspector from Scotland Yard, works to stop this killer before he strikes again. This is a familiar thriller plot, but the period details and psychological insights elevate it to a sterling example of a historical mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 12/28/2013

    " I could not put this down. Possibly one of the best written mysteries I'd read in years. I wish he'd write more/faster! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evi | 12/21/2013

    " Very enjoyable English detective novel. Takes place following WWI with a series of gory murders in the English countryside. This is the first in a series of detective John Madden tales and am hoping to read more by this author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 12/21/2013

    " This is a good read! Protagonist is an interesting and complex character and Post WWI England is intriguing to me. A bit too long. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 12/7/2013

    " Character-driven mystery in England soon after WWI. It's the 1st in a series of 3 (so far). I liked the main detective and the anachronistic female doctor he falls in love with during the case. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Quwanyshia | 11/28/2013

    " Interesting and full of suspense. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Minda Webber | 11/15/2013

    " Strong, vulnerable characters and a solid, intriguing murder mystery. So many great quotes in this book, this author is a master with words. This is the second time I've read it and I loved. Also, very realistic look at post WWI. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ed | 10/31/2013

    " Post WWI England, John Madden, Scotland Yard detective carrying his own baggage from the war, investigates horrendous murders in a tightly written and totally gripping tale. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kris | 10/29/2013

    " This mystery is a solid thriller; it kind of reminded me of the Steig Larsson books. I liked the fact that it was about post-WWI PTSD in a cop and a killer, and it was certainly a fun read, if a bit long for its genre. Overall, I liked it but found it a bit too predictable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sophie | 9/15/2013

    " Excellent thriller. Well paced and plotted and likeable characters (apart from the murderer...). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kara | 8/28/2013

    " Great twists. A total TV-book - you can't put it down! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lila | 5/29/2013

    " I picked this up at the library where it was part of a display about good and relatively unknown mystery writers. I liked it and will try more of Airth's books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 3/21/2013

    " This is a very intense read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Jones | 11/13/2012

    " Another great between the wars mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandra aka Sleo | 10/27/2012

    " This was a great book. Well written, great characters, intricate and believable plot. Solving a crime in post WWI Great Britain. People putting their lives back together after the senseless slaughter of that war. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carly | 10/17/2012

    " This was a good old fashioned mystery/detective novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 4/7/2012

    " If you like your murder mysteries English style, pre modern day forensics and psychological then this is the book for you. An excellent yarn. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stan | 3/27/2012

    " Some good characterization, good blend of crime-solving and tension. Some improbabilities. Might look for more by this author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ruth | 3/12/2012

    " c1999. In the words of a previous reviewer - so so. I never like it when the plot involves knowing who the murderer actually is. Nice development of John Madden though. Sadly, I felt the plot was predictable and not as menacing as the blurb suggested, "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gail | 2/13/2012

    " A great read. Interesting, many twists, fun, loved it. Has a little bit of everything !!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie Swain | 1/9/2012

    " As usual, Rennie Airth can be relied upon to have a well constructed plot. I liked his background using the First World War - a horrifying but fascinating facet of history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin | 12/28/2011

    " An exceptional start to what I hope is a long list in this series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Marie | 10/7/2011

    " First of a trilogy of mysteries set in the aftermath of WWI. Hero is an English veteran, shell-shocked but still sharp. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gaynel | 4/22/2011

    " The beginning was kind of odd but once it picked up I couldn't put it down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 3/26/2011

    " Unique setting. Rural England violence after World War I. Great writing about the life in small English villages. I wish Airth had written many, many more of these people. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 1/1/2011

    " You can tell it's the author's first book, but in spite of the awkward sex scenes and cliched ending, it's entertaing and held my interest. I'll look for his other books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 J.C. | 12/2/2010

    " Decent but not amazing, or even great for that matter. A good story caught in a overly descriptive novel. If you read it just stick to the story and skip where you can, don't get caught up in all the long descriptions. By the end I was skimming. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 La Chipie | 11/29/2010

    " Très efficace: aussi bien l'époque qui n'est pas souvent abordée dans les thrillers récents (après la Première Guerre), que la personnalité du détective et des personnages secondaires, surtout la femme médecin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 10/12/2010

    " Very satisfying mystery. There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and I enjoyed the characters very much. Very highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 10/8/2010

    " I liked the characters in this book, not the villian, he was just twisted and way beyond help but all the rest of the people were very likeable. It's so funny to read about a time when everyone didn't have a phone. I forget that wasn't all that long ago. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 9/29/2010

    " This is a good read! Protagonist is an interesting and complex character and Post WWI England is intriguing to me. A bit too long. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wesley | 9/13/2010

    " I'll be interested to see the next installments in this series "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Graham | 8/14/2010

    " This is a riveting mystery that begins somewhat slowly then heats up to a demanding must complete status very quickly. The author leads the reader into a frenzy of anxiety by the end of the book with a unique twist to the plot at the end that leaves the reader shaken. "

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About the Author
Author Rennie Airth

Rennie Airth was born in South Africa and worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters before becoming a novelist. He is the author of the John Madden mysteries, including River of Darkness, a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and a Macavity Award for Best Mystery and a New York Times Notable Book, and The Blood-Dimmed Tide. He lives in Cortona, Italy.

About the Narrator

Christopher Kay began his performance career with an early start as both an actor and singer in theater. In time, he began to pursue broadcasting opportunities, including announcing, newsreading, audiobook narration, and presenting radio and television programs. He worked extensively for Granada, Yorkshire, and the BBC. During his distinguished career, he has earned eleven broadcasting awards and two AudioFile Earphones Awards. Born in Stockport, Cheshire, he now makes his residence in Clwydian Hills of North Wales.