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Download River of Darkness Audiobook

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:
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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.”


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


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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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.