Black River by Joss Stirling reviewed

Black River Book Cover Black River
Jess Bridges
Joss Stirling
HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter
October 30, 2020

The River Thames always gives up its dead…

There’s a killer picking off victims from the wild swimming spots on the upper reaches of the Thames. The case takes Detective Inspector Leo George into the path of Jess Bridges, a private investigator who lives life close to the edge.

Their enquiries lead them to author, Jago Jackson, whose book on secret wild swimming spots has turned him into a social media celebrity. Is Jago’s book the blueprint that the murderer is following? If so, does that make Jago a target or the killer himself? Either way, the duo find themselves swimming in some very dangerous waters …

Black River by Joss Stirling

Jess Bridges goes for a naked swim late in the evening on the Thames near Oxford. While in the water she finds a body in a boat and a dog steals her clothes. So the book starts! Jess is a private investigator among her other talents. There is a local author who has written a book on wild swimming spots in the area. Is someone using the book to find deserted places to murder people?  I really liked the opening paragraph – it grabbed me, always a good start.

Black River follows Jess, somewhat chaotic, and DI Leo George, in charge of the case and not chaotic. Jess is without doubt the main character. However other characters do roam the pages of this book – generally to good effect. There are twists and turns and some of them may be a little obvious. The writing is sharp/crisp and makes for very easy reading. The pace here is good. There is definitely humour here too – I did smile from time to time.

Other threads are woven into this story. Jess’s private life (some times not so) is “interesting”. Her family relationships are a little fraught. A stalker of an ex of hers provides another aspect to the story. Throw in the fact that Jess is working a case of her own and there is plenty to got involved with here.

This is a slightly odd book for me. It is kinda “chic lit” which I would not normally bother with. However it is also a halfway decent murder mystery story as well. In addition I found Jess an entirely likeable and mostly convincing character. Slightly frustratingly there was mention of a previous case however I can’t find a book about it. That is a pity in my view as I would happily read more about Jess. If I wasn’t blown away by Black River I did find it entertaining and enjoyable.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review