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What the River Buries by Rocky Hirajeta

A suspense filled ride, one you won’t be able to put down. On the edge of 18, dealing with teenage drama, still grieving the loss of a parent. And now witnessing what appears to be the disposal of a body in the woods. How much can a girl handle?

From the first chapter, I was drawn into the mystery of what Natalie, a high school senior, witnessed at the river one autumn night. This fast paced thriller had me racing through to the end to unravel the puzzle, yet rereading to savor the vivid descriptions of the river and woods in the small town of Marton.

Greenkettle River has a pulse of its own in this atmospheric novel, flowing alongside trees and leading to an off-limits wooded area called the Acres. Signs warning people to stay out of the area don’t deter Natalie, who finds peace in its solitude, sketching nature and capturing photos. Her art and the river provide a temporary escape from life – poor grades, losing her job, a strained relationship with her mother, and the anniversary of her father’s death. But, after the night Natalie stumbles onto something she wasn’t meant to see, her problems take a second seat and she focuses on escaping with her life.

Warned to ignore what she saw in the woods, Natalie decides to investigate further, but pushes away her mother and her best friend, Marisa, choosing to handle the situation alone, in the same way she has been dealing with the circumstances of her father’s passing years ago. What the River Buries is a coming-of-age tale as well as a story of crime and corruption. When those she loves are threatened, will Natalie find the courage to ask for help?

Ripe with imagery, the novel’s setting draws a parallel between the course of the river and the main character’s journey through life. As she digs into what happened that night, Nat discovers not only what lies buried in the river, she brings her own internal struggles to the surface where she can better cope with them. Faced with various paths to follow, Natalie seeks to unmask a killer, not always opting for the best course of action. Filled with twists as she turns up dirt on prominent citizens, the book follows Natalie as she risks her life to do what’s right.

An excellent debut for author Rocky Hirajeta, What the River Buries will keep you on the edge of your seat as small town secrets are unburied.

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