Black River (Jess Bridges Mystery #1) by Joss Stirling
Publication Date : October 30th 2020
Publisher : One More Chapter
Genre : Mystery / Thriller
Pages : 316
A THRILLING NEW WHODUNNIT SERIES, FAST-PACED AND FUNNY, FEATURING A DETECTIVE AS SHARP AS HIS SUITS AND A HEROINE WHO’S TROUBLE.
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. . . .
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley as a part of readalong. Many thanks to Claire @One More Chapter. ***
Black River was light and hardboiled opening book of Jess Bridges Mystery series that revolved around the murder cases in Oxford’s wild swimming spots and main characters Jess and Leo involved with the cases. It was about difficult family relationship, abusive childhood, friendship, online trolling and abuse, ADHD, manipulation, and obsessive disorder.
Writing was engaging, descriptive, and entertaining in multiple first person narrative mainly from Jess, Leo and Michael’s perspective. Setting of North Oxford, Linton college with film shooting going on, wild Swimming Spots around river Thames and Cherwell was vivid and atmospheric. It added extra touch to story making it more mysterious. I could imagine how the wild swimming spots could attract all kind of danger. Plot was interesting with not only murder mystery but few other mysteries and layers.
It started with Jess, single and definitely not mom, attending her third mom’s book club at Parson’s Pleasure with her best friend and tenant Cory that turned into hilarious event with a dare of naked wild swimming in river, clothes taken by a dog, Cory running after dog to fetch clothes, and Jess hiding in bush, naked. But soon the fun wild swimming spot turned into more serious crime scene when Jess found another naked body, but dead.
DI Leo George was tasked to lead the investigation and that’s how he met Jess and another witness the passer by jogger, Jago Jackson, who helped Jess on the scene and happened to be the same author Jess’ book club was discussing. But soon there are more murders that made Leo bring in forensic psychologist, Michael Harrison who was Jess’ ex. At the same time Michael was being trolled and threatened on social media and Jess received her private investigator case that doesn’t look as simple as it seems.
Looks like so much was going on, right? I was curious to find out who was the killer, who was trolling Michael and who was to blame in the case Jess was following, and how they were going to solve all these mysteries. Jess’ voice refreshing and brought book to life. Her fun, sassy and lively nature gave this murder mystery a cozy feel which was surprising. I was expecting a serious mystery/thriller but it turned out fun and entertaining making me smile and laugh often.
There were many characters but best thing was I could keep the track of them without having to keep notes. Most of characters were likable, fun to read and quirky but some were unreliable and I didn’t trust easily.
Jess was the best character in the book. She was impulsive, reckless, unpredictable, funny, lively, hyperactive with ADHD, and had a knack to get in trouble and find herself in weird and funny situation. She was going through emotional phase. She worked as undertaker at her boyfriend’s parent’ funeral firm. But the blunder she made and her boyfriend leaving her to pursue another career keeping their relationship ‘on hiatus’, made her find her own accommodation and a new job. Luckily, she found Cory who needed unofficial lodger and soon became best friend. Jess also had a business of private investigator specialising in lost-and-found person service. She was really good at it than any other job she took.
She was charming person even though she had abusive and troubled childhood making her run away from her father. She hid the panic, anxiety and worry world threw at her well behind her always happy and chirpy nature. She was amazing friend and weirdly loyal to her exes. The way she helped Michael and handled her tentative ex, in presence of Jago with whom she was now sleeping was amazing. I bet only she can do this and come out without any judgement, with nobody getting hurt or harbouring ill feelings, and still can attract virtually every man she come across.
Leo was second favourite character. He was Jess’ polar opposite- serious, organised, calm, and steady. He was amazing in his detective work and also had similar troubled and tough childhood that hid well from the world. I liked him the way he handled case, and his departments’ view towards him.
I loved Cory and how she helped Jess and stayed with her even after knowing she and her kids might be in danger. I agreed with her when she said life with Jess never can be boring. I didn’t like Drew for leaving Jess hanging with uncertain relationship. I didn’t like Jago, he was too self-absorbed and I didn’t trust him most of the time. Jonah was great. He too loved fame and was a little self-absorbed but there was more to him and loved him for helping Jess. Michael was my third favourite. His struggle with injury, loneliness and regrets were well written. The case gave his life purpose and I like how it helped his mental health and developed his character.
Now you could figure out Jess’ relationships were complicated and yet I could see something happening between Jess and Leo. It didn’t happen in this one but I was enjoying Leo’s attraction towards Jess and how Jess could turn his ever neutral face into relaxing and smiling. I can’t wait to see how their relationship will progresses in next books.
All twist and turns were amazing. It was action packed and hardly gave time to predict anything. I had few theories for all three cases but they all turned out wrong but my second guess was right in one case. Climax was tense with a twist in the case Jess was following that got involved with serial killer, and then Michael figuring out who was sending him threat with unexpected visit. It was amazing to see all three cases coming together and the way they were wrapped up. End was perfect and lovely.
Overall, Black River was fun, entertaining, action-packed and well written mystery with interesting characters and atmospheric setting.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my review, have you read this book already or any book by the same author? Do you like thrillers that has cozy mystery feel and is entertaining? If so which is your favourite?
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