Review: Down a Dark River by Karen Odden

Title: Down a Dark River by Karen Odden
An Inspector Corravan Mystery Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In the vein of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, Karen Odden’s mystery introduces Inspector Michael Corravan as he investigates a string of vicious murders that has rocked Victorian London’s upper crust.

London, 1878. One April morning, a small boat bearing a young woman’s corpse floats down the murky waters of the Thames. When the victim is identified as Rose Albert, daughter of a prominent judge, the Scotland Yard director gives the case to Michael Corravan, one of the only Senior Inspectors remaining after a corruption scandal the previous autumn left the division in ruins. Reluctantly, Corravan abandons his ongoing case, a search for the missing wife of a shipping magnate, handing it over to his young colleague, Mr. Stiles.

An Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker from London’s seedy East End, Corravan has good street sense and an inspector’s knack for digging up clues. But he’s confounded when, a week later, a second woman is found dead in a rowboat, and then a third. The dead women seem to have no connection whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mr. Stiles makes an alarming discovery: the shipping magnate’s missing wife, Mrs. Beckford, may not have fled her house because she was insane, as her husband claims, and Mr. Beckford may not be the successful man of business that he appears to be.

Slowly, it becomes clear that the river murders and the case of Mrs. Beckford may be linked through some terrible act of injustice in the past—for which someone has vowed a brutal vengeance. Now, with the newspapers once again trumpeting the Yard’s failures, Corravan must dredge up the truth—before London devolves into a state of panic and before the killer claims another innocent victim.


Set in 1878, Down a Dark River by Karen Odden is a fascinating historical mystery.

Chief Inspector Michael Corravan does not have a good feeling following the discovery the body of Rose Albert in a lighter on the Thames River. She is a young woman from a good family and there are few clues to follow. When another young woman is found murdered in the same manner, Corravan’s worst fears are realized. With the reputation of Scotland Yard already battered from a recent scandal, his boss, Director Howard Vincent, implores Corravan to tread lightly with the victims’ families. Will Michael be able to contain his frustration and concerns over his lack of progress in catching the killer?

Just as the first victim is found, Michael makes progress in another case involving a missing woman, Mrs. Madeline Beckford. After locating her, his attempt to drop her off at her home leads to a shock response. Concerned about her safety, Corravan instead takes her the hospital where his friend Dr. James Everett works. Michael puts his young partner Inspector Stiles in charge of remaining by Madeline’s side in an effort to discover what drove her from her husband’s side.

Meanwhile, more murdered young women are found in lighters and Corravan’s vexation with his inability to find the murderer results in impetus decisions that threaten the case. He is rough around the edges and works hard to contain his impatience. Corravan can be brusque and his irritation with some of the victim’s family members is difficult to contain. After angering a person with unexpected connections in high places, Director Vincent puts Stiles in charge of the investigation. Will Michael heed his boss’s warning to stay away from the case?

Down a Dark River is a compelling mystery with an outstanding cast of characters. Corravan is multi-layered with a temper sometimes gets the best of him. Inspector Stiles patience and compassion perfectly complement Michael’s bull in the china shop tendencies. The storyline is quite engaging with a very perplexing mystery to solve. With brilliant twists and cunning turns, Karen Odden brings this clever mystery to an unpredictable yet satisfying conclusion. An Inspector Corravan Mystery series is off to a strong beginning and fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.


Filed under An Inspector Corravan Mystery, Crooked Lane Books, Down a Dark River, Historical, Karen Odden, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

2 Responses to Review: Down a Dark River by Karen Odden

  1. Suze

    Sounds a good one! Do like a good murder mystery