Winner of the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel.


Everything that shaped him happened near that river….

Now its banks are filled with lies and greed, shame, and murder….

Adam Chase has a violent streak, and not without reason. As a boy, he saw things that no child should see, suffered wounds that cut to the core and scarred thin. The trauma left him passionate and misunderstood—a fighter. After being narrowly acquitted of a murder charge, Adam is hounded out of the only home he’s ever known, exiled for a sin he did not commit. For five long years he disappears, fades into the faceless gray of New York City. Now he’s back and nobody knows why, not his family or the cops, not the enemies he left behind.

But Adam has his reasons.

Within hours of his return, he is beaten and accosted, confronted by his family and the women he still holds dear. No one knows what to make of Adam’s return, but when bodies start turning up, the small town rises against him and Adam again finds himself embroiled in the fight of his life, not just to prove his own innocence, but to reclaim the only life he’s ever wanted.

Bestselling author John Hart holds nothing back as he strips his characters bare. Secrets explode, emotions tear, and more than one person crosses the brink into deadly behavior as he examines the lengths to which people will go for money, family, and revenge.

A powerful, heart-pounding thriller, Down River will haunt your thoughts long after the last page is turned.


“Down River should settle once and for all the question of whether THRILLERS AND MYSTERIES can also be literature.”

- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“If you value Harper Lee, James Lee Burke, Truman Capote, and Michael Malone…it’s time to ADD JOHN HART TO YOUR BOOKSHELVES.”

- New York Sun

“The thrills come FAST AND FURIOUS.”

- The Washington Post

“Hart’s sophomore effort surpasses his debut … This work is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s novels, HARD-BOILED AND RICH WITH EVOCATIVE METAPHORS. Complex relationships blur the lines between friend and foe, heightening the suspense in this intricate, haunting story, of a family in crisis, and the writing is simply superb. Recommend for all fiction collections.”

- Library Journal (starred review)

"A truly splendid novel with a deep emotional core."

- Booklist (starred review)

"This book should settle once and for all the question of whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature."

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"As in his Edgar-nominated debut, The King of Lies, Hart takes his time, snaring the reader with evocative storytelling and lush prose."

- Boston Globe

"Down River falls squarely in the league of the best of Southern novels."

- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"A sensitive rumination on the emotional force of family dynamics."

- Washington Post

"There are few books published that can legitimately be called a 'must-read,' but this is one of them."

- Chicago Sun-Times

"An engrossing, bittersweet reading experience that expertly evokes William Faulkner, John Grisham, and John Berendt."

- Mystery Scene

"Hart's sophomore effort surpasses his debut. This work is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler's novels. The writing is simply superb."

- Library Journal (starred review)

"Hart's work invokes the spirit of the best of southern literature.  Down River puts readers in the mind of topics explored by Thomas Wolfe, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, with a contemporary vision and edge that is memorable and haunting. Hart is a deep and strong talent whose future offerings will be greatly anticipated and welcomed."

- Book Reporter