River Road by Carol Goodman

Reviewed by Richard Goldman
Hardcover January 2016

Buy it at Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Nan Lewis is having a bad day. She's just learned she's been denied tenure at the SUNY campus in the Hudson Valley where she teaches English. She's had a slightly tipsy argument with her department head about the tenure decision and, on the way home from the faculty Christmas party she hits a deer on the road of the title.

Things only get worse the next morning with the police at her door telling her that a student has been killed by a hit-and-run driver on River Road. Perhaps that was no deer that Nan hit but rather the dead girl.

Goodman, a long-time professor at SUNY New Paltz, knows the academic milieu well from its most aggravating and petty to the glorious moments of making a difference in a student's life and Nan certainly experiences all of that and more in this compelling novel. The hit-and-run accusation is particularly terrifying to Nan because she knew the student, Leia Dawson, quite well and had her in several classes. Additionally, Nan's own young daughter was the victim of a similar accident quite near the current site.

A number of plot strands are interwoven as suspicions move from Nan to other players and as secrets are revealed--some relevant, some not.

A thoroughly enjoyable and suspenseful tale with a cast of characters drawn from all walks of life.