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Extended Audio Sample The Reservoir: A Novel, by John Milliken  Thompson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (582 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Milliken Thompson Narrator: Tom Stechschult Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The author of numerous works of historical nonfiction, John Milliken Thompson put his extensive researching skills to good use when penning his critically acclaimed first novel, The Reservoir. Based on real events in 1885 Virginia, Thompson’s story is gripping.

On an early spring morning in Richmond, Virginia, in the year 1885, a young pregnant woman is found floating in the city reservoir. It appears that she has committed suicide, but there are curious clues at the scene that suggest foul play. The case attracts local attention, and an eccentric group of men collaborate to solve the crime. Detective Jack Wren lurks in the shadows, weaseling his way into the investigation and intimidating witnesses. Policeman Daniel Cincinnatus Richardson, on the brink of retirement, catches the case and relentlessly pursues it to its sorrowful conclusion. As the identity of the girl, Lillie, is revealed, her dark family history comes to light, and the investigation focuses on her tumultuous affair with Tommie Cluverius. Tommie, an ambitious young lawyer, is the pride and joy of his family and the polar opposite of his brother Willie, a quiet, humble farmer. Though both men loved Lillie, it’s Tommie’s reckless affair that thrusts his family into the spotlight. With Lillie dead, Willie must decide how far to trust Tommie, and whether he ever understood him at all. Told through accumulating revelations, Tommie’s story finally ends in a riveting courtroom climax.

Based on a true story, The Reservoir centers on a guilty and passionate love triangle composed of two very different brothers and one young, naive girl hiding an unspeakable secret. A novel of lust, betrayal, justice, and revenge, The Reservoir ultimately probes the question of whether we can really know the hearts and minds of others, even of those closest to us.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Reservoir is a complex first novel that is a simmering blend of Southern tragedy, a love triangle, coming-of-age story, and crime saga.”

    Historical Novels Review

  • “An engaging mystery novel rendered as Southern literature.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Historian and debut novelist Thompson mined a treasure trove of documents and background detail for this novel, based on an actual murder and trial set in 1880s Richmond, Virginia…Thompson masterfully illustrates how a seemingly clear-cut case can be filled with ambiguities.”

    Library Journal

  • Selected for the July 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bruce Cowan | 2/20/2014

    " Held my attention. Enjoyed the author's construction of time and place. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nlimprecht | 2/16/2014

    " I wanted to read this book after hearing the author read the beginning pages at the National Book Festival in DC. I generally do not like mysteries. I am curious about novels that base themselves in fact and use a novelist's perogative to invent everything that the historian can't know. In this case, there was an awful lot of material that the historian had to work with and it was genuinely interesting. The mystery at the center of the story--the degree of Tommie's involvement/responsibility for Lillie's death--is never fully resolved but the twists and turns of his mind, feelings, rationalizations, memories, and character are given full realization by the author. Brother Will, his opposite and foil in many ways, devotes himself to saving the life of his remaining brother, his third and youngest brother having died as young child largely due to his and Tommie's negligence. It is guilt and how the brothers deal with it that truly informs the novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Amanda Ishtayeh | 2/2/2014

    " This was a good book based loosely on real life events. I loved the time period and his description of this but there were parts that were long and drawn out and did not give much to the story. Worth a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mandy | 2/1/2014

    " I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say there was anything special about it. My curiosity was piqued when I saw that it was described in multiple places as a Southern Gothic novel. I still do not know what that means, but now I can say that I've read one. This was a classic mystery/detective story, except that the ending is somewhat unclear. All in all, a fairly good book. "

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About the Author

John Milliken Thompson is the author of The ReservoirAmerica’s Historic Trails, and Wildlands of the Upper South, as well as the coauthor of The Almanac of American History. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, Washington Post, National Geographic Traveler, and other publications, and his short stories have been published in Louisiana Literature, South Dakota Review, and many other literary journals. He has lived in the South all his life.