At the start of this outstanding thriller from bestseller Johnston (Descent), Audrey Sutter, a student at an unnamed Southern college, asks to borrow bus money from her friend Caroline Price so she can get home to see her father, Tom, who’s dying of lung cancer in Minnesota. Instead, Caroline, a Georgia native, offers to drive Audrey the 700 miles north. A few miles from Audrey’s hometown, Caroline’s SUV plunges into the icy Black Root River, killing her; Audrey survives. Tom, the town’s former sheriff, wonders if the vehicle was pushed. The case echoes back to the death of 19-year-old Holly Burke, whose body was found in the same river a decade earlier. Tom has never forgotten the unsolved case, and Holly’s father, Gordon, still blames the ex-sheriff for not proving that a local teenager killed his daughter. Johnston imbues each character with believable motives. The nuanced plot delves deep into how a community—and surviving relatives—deal with the aftermath of a death. 100,000-copy announced first printing; 15-city author tour. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Jan.)
“Gripping as it is, Johnston’s masterful novel is worth lingering over—it soars above the constraints of a traditional thriller and pulls you deep into the secrets of a grief-stricken town.” —People “Johnston dazzled with his breakout thriller, Descent; his follow-up is a more ambitious page-turner, unpacking how a shocking murder impacts the denizens of a small Minnesota town as they weather suspicion, guilt, and grief.”—Entertainment Weekly (The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019) “Tim Johnston’s second novel, The Current, is even better than his first, which is saying something. He’s a terrific writer and definitely a name to watch.”—Dennis Lehane, author of Since We Fell “Johnston writes in gracefully exact language with genuine heart . . . reminiscent of writers like Annie Proulx and Richard Bausch.”—The New York Times Book Review “Tim Johnston’s gripping second novel is much more than a skillfully constructed, beautifully written whodunit. It’s a subtle and lyrical acclamation of the heart and spirit of small-town America. The Current is not your conventional, frenetically paced page-turner, although it smolders with a brooding, slow-burn tension that nudges the reader forward, catching you up in the lives of the troubled solitaries at the book’s core.”—Washington Independent Review of Books “Pick up Tim Johnston's suspenseful novel The Current and you risk finding yourself glued to your chair, eyes to the pages, no thought of attending to daily obligations. Johnston's elegant, cinematic style takes us into the characters' lives and history, problems and concerns. The book examines that horrifying moment when everything changes, the before and after when love, friendship, hopes and trust turn into dread, guilt, blame and grief.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune “Johnston delivers a richly atmospheric story whose depictions of the frozen winter landscape reinforce the novel’s theme of individuals unable to move on after loss . . . The Current is, in part, a mystery, but it’s also about everything that is left in a mystery’s wake — the fathers and daughters, mothers and sons facing the tormenting questions surrounding their dead or disappeared loved ones. It is an examination of the way tragedies divide but can also offer the opportunity to bring people together, ushering in the inevitable thaw that can reveal the path toward moving forward and healing.”—The Los Angeles Review of Books “Tim Johnston’s new novel, The Current, is an exceptional tale of suspicion and secrets—and a strong follow-up to his excellent 2015 book, Descent.”—Cedar Rapids Gazette “The author of Descent, returns with a tour de force about the indelible impact of a crime on the lives of innocent people.”—The Wichita Eagle “[An involving and layered thriller . . . Johnston’s prose is so lyrical you want to stop and read it again.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press “With The Current, Johnston presents readers with another slate of unforgettable characters.”—The Missourian “Along with his poetic style, the author’s acknowledgement of the complicated nuances inherent in friendship, family and love, especially the love of a parent for a child, elevate this tale to literary fiction.”—The Columbus Dispatch “With unhurried ease The Current carries us along, mirroring that fatal river, as clear as winter ice on the surface while beneath flowing darkly into the past.”—The Barnes and Noble Review “Seriously suspenseful.”—HelloGiggles “This novel is careful layer upon careful layer, as deceptively thick yet brutally delicate as winter ice itself. Johnston's descriptions of people, places, grief, and loneliness are subtle and evocative; the minor plot about an aging dog becomes a rending portrait of the ravages of love. Indeed, for all its harsh observations about human nature, this novel has at its heart a strong belief that love, for all the pain it brings, is the one thing that truly saves us. An apt title that functions as a beautiful metaphor for all the secrets and emotions roiling beneath the surface of every human life.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred) “[An] outstanding thriller . . . Johnston imbues each character with believable motives. The nuanced plot delves deep into how a community—and surviving relatives—deal with the aftermath of a death.”—Publishers Weekly (starred) “Tim Johnston’s Descent, a complex missing-person thriller set in the shadowy wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, was one of 2015’s most pleasant surprises. His follow-up, The Current, is equally, if not more, impressive . . . as methodical as Johnston is at unwrapping his carefully plotted story, readers will churn throughThe Current's 400 pages—a paradox that only the most accomplished mystery writers ever achieve. The only complaint is that we might have to wait another three years for his next one.”—Amazon Book Review (Best Book of the Month) “The Current is a rare creature: a gripping thriller and page turner but also a masterwork of mood and language. You’ll want to go fast at the same time you’ll be compelled to savor each and every word.”—Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley "Tim Johnston is the best thing to come along in crime fiction in years. With Descent and The Current he has already established himself as one of the best writers in the game, with an original voice that calls to mind the likes of Cormac McCarthy and Dennis Lehane but is entirely his own. With its beautiful prose, deeply emotional storytelling, and craftsman's eye for detail, The Current made me want to read slower, and write better."—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of How It Happened “I would have taken a break long before 2:00 a.m. last night were it not for Johnston’s masterly ability to rummage inside the heads of his various characters, revealing the frayed fabric of small-town life in the process and showing us the stand-up grit of a handful of women and men . . . We need a little hyperbole if we’re going to adequately describe how much we love a Tim Johnston novel.” —Bill Ott, Booklist “Johnson plots out intricate story lines—his character development is thorough and intensive . . . what an invigorating read!”—Dayton Daily News “The Current is moody, layered crime fiction at its finest; you’ll be tempted to tear through the pages, but, slow down. The lyrical language is worth lingering over.”—The Augusta Chronicle “Tim Johnston has given us the gold standard of lush narrative description—captivating, mesmerizing, stunning. It's doubtful you'll ever read a more beautifully written book than The Current.” —The New York Journal of Books“The Current is a haunting story . . . Johnston masterfully describes people, their grief, their guilt, and loneliness. He brings out both the brutal and loving sides of human nature. It is a real treat for those who love thrillers.”—The Washington Book Review
A young woman turns Nancy Drew after losing her friend and her father to accident and illness in Johnston's (The Descent, 2015, etc.) haunting novel.
Though their relationship as roommates is fraught with tension and misunderstanding, Caroline and Audrey continue to be drawn together throughout their time at college. So when Audrey asks to borrow $150 for a bus ticket so she can visit her terminally ill father, Caroline spontaneously offers to drive her all the way home instead: " ‘What the fuck,' Caroline says. ‘Road trip.' " But a violent encounter at a gas station, followed by a car accident, leaves Audrey injured—and Caroline dead. Trying to come to terms with the tragedy, Audrey realizes that their accident had a lot in common with the death of another girl years ago; she begins to investigate on her own, and she finds that the people involved—the girl's suffering father; a young man who fell under suspicion; his lonely mother—are caught in the loose threads of the past and have been unable to move on. As she draws nearer to discovering the truth, Audrey realizes her own life may be in danger, yet she's driven inextricably on. If it sounds like a mystery, it is, but not in the traditional whodunit mode. This novel is careful layer upon careful layer, as deceptively thick yet brutally delicate as winter ice itself. Johnston's descriptions of people, places, grief, and loneliness are subtle and evocative; the minor plot about an aging dog becomes a rending portrait of the ravages of love. Indeed, for all its harsh observations about human nature, this novel has at its heart a strong belief that love, for all the pain it brings, is the one thing that truly saves us.
An apt title that functions as a beautiful metaphor for all the secrets and emotions roiling beneath the surface of every human life.