The day comes sooner than expected when Charles, prompted by a near-scandal between Evelyn and a servant, brings her on a business trip to New York City and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Evelyn welcomes the chance to escape her cloistered life and see the world.
But a fishing expedition up the Nipigon River in Canada takes an unexpected turn when Evelyn discovers that their river guide is none other than James Douglas. Even more startling, her father betrays no shock, simply instructing Evelyn not to reveal their past connection with James to the rest of their party.
Evelyn never believed that James was guilty, but speculation about her father’s role in the killing has made her fearful. What is he hiding? As they travel deeper into the wilderness, and further from the constraints of polite society, the secrets and lies surrounding that night are finally stripped away, revealing the true natures of everyone in their party.
BEYOND THE WILD RIVER by Sarah Maine
Atria Books Paperback | On-sale: April 18, 2017 | ISBN: 9781501126956 | 352 pages | $16.00
eBook: 9781501126970, $11.99
Evelyn Ballantyre has grown up in a privileged but sheltered life on Ballantyre estate in the Scottish Borderlands in the 1890's. Her father is a respected magistrate and has spent his life carefully building up his wealth and taking care of his holdings. One choice Ballantyre has made was to take in a young man found poaching on his estate; James Douglas was given the role as a groom and became a companion to the younger Evelyn. Years later, a hunting incident leaves an older poacher dead on Ballantyre grounds. The poacher was James' friend from his youth. The murder is pinned on James and he very nearly escapes. Both Ballantyre and Evelyn know of his innocence; however Ballantyre has no evidence-yet and Evelyn is just simply confused. Five years after the murder Evelyn is whisked away with her father on a trip to North America where they travel around New York City, Chicago's World Fair and finally a camping and fishing trip up the Nipigon River. On the Nipigon fate will take its turn to bring everyone together from the day of the murder on Ballantyre estate where the truth will finally come out, revenge will be served and past mistakes made right.
Beyond the Wild River took a path much like a meandering river; beginning with a murder, then an extravagant trip dotted with flashbacks to Evelyn's time growing up at Ballantyre and an explosive ending with a waterfall. It did take me a while to feel like I was taken into the story and it took me until about 30% of the way through to really get into it. I'm not sure how much of the trip before arriving at the Nipigon was really necessary. Once the mystery between Evelyn, Ballantyre, James and inadvertent guest Rupert Daltson begins to unravel, I had trouble putting the book down. Much like the river rapids, the four travellers could not keep their memories about the night five years ago tucked away and their emotions soon bubbled over. However, Ballantyre is a surprising force to be reckoned with and I was truly astonished at how he planned on resolving everything. The characters also took me a little while to get to know; Evelyn and James were the main focus. I really wanted to like Evelyn, however she was a little hard to identify with. Evelyn eventually grew on me as she made her way camping and fishing in the wilderness. James was the most thorough character and I did want to know more about his past. I do wish that a little of James and Evelyn's future would have been revealed at the end. Overall an interesting and intricate historical mystery that will take you from the upper class Scotting Borderlands to the wild Canadian rivers.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Sarah Maine was born in England but grew up partly in Canada before returning to the United Kingdom, where she now lives. She is the author of The House Between Tides. Check her out at http://sarahmainebooks.com and www.twitter.com/SarahMaineBooks.
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