The River Murder by Patrick J. Collins

Author Patrick Collins is back with his thirteenth novel, The River Murder. Inspired by true events, Collins weaves another criminal tale of murder, suspicion and lost love set against a backdrop of religious rioting the likes of which the 1884 British Dominion of Newfoundland had likely never seen before.  

Set in the outport town of Harbour Grace Sergeant Sean Ryan is tasked to police the emotionally charged and tense community of Riverhead. On the heels of the infamous religious riot known as the Harbour Grace Affray, which saw the killing of four protestant men and the leader of the Irish Catholics, Patrick Callahan,  the community is deeply divided following public inquiries and trials which saw the exoneration of the Head Constable,  not guilty verdicts and finally acquittals for 19 Riverhead men. There is strong public dissent and great mistrust within the community but Sergeant Ryan,  a 12-year police veteran from Cork, Ireland, was the only officer who had not been involved in the Affray on that fateful day and would likely gain the trust of the Riverhead people. Certainly, being a Catholic himself and distantly related to the Callahans would also endear him to the community, one would think. 

“In true Patrick Collins style, the author magically and expertly intertwines the unique factual history of his Harbour Grace home within a fictitious storyline.”

The young police officer is propelled into action one June morning, when thirty-five-year-old Thomas Callahan, the son of the late Patrick Callahan, was found floating in the river with a gunshot wound to his chest. The investigation is complicated and the Sergeant faces many obstacles and roadblocks.  As he works to gain acceptance and navigate a volatile situation fraught with complex social issues, he must also decipher his own mental health challenges while discovering that his former lover had been in a romantic relationship with the deceased man, Thomas. Will Sergeant Ryan gain the trust of the people and solve this gruesome murder?

In true Patrick Collins style, the author magically and expertly intertwines the unique factual history of his Harbour Grace home within a fictitious storyline. Complete with a detailed Prologue outlining the tumultuous events of the Boxing Day riot in 1883 as well as a map of the Harbour Grace area showing the location of the narrative, readers will have a better understanding of the storyline and like me, will have a desire to visit this quaint Newfoundland town. The story reads like a true who-done-it crime novel and readers will be introduced to many characters as the story develops and the mystery unfolds. The abundance of characters necessitated a reread of some sections in order for me to keep things straight but I still enjoyed trying to figure out who killed Thomas. Just when I thought I had figured it out, I discovered I was wrong. Needless to say, the ending of the book did catch me off guard. Good job, Mr. Collins, on a great history lesson and an entertaining read!

Patrick J. Collins is a writer and retired educator who has taught in various communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Pat’s thirteenth and most recent work, The River Murder, is a crime novel inspired by true events. Born and raised in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, Patrick J. Collins continues to enjoy researching and writing in his retirement.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Flanker Press Ltd. (Sept. 1 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 271 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 177457148X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1774571484