The Current

The Current

by Tim Johnston


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Tim Johnston, whose breakout debut Descent was called “astonishing,” “dazzling,” and “unforgettable” by critics, returns with The Current, a tour de force about the indelible impact of a crime on the lives of innocent people.
In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scenehalf frozen but alive.

What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.

Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.

Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616206772
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 01/22/2019
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 67,641
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Tim Johnston, a native of Iowa City, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Descent, as well as a young adult novel, Never So Green, and the story collection Irish Girl, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.

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The Current 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was fine, the plot etc. I did not like the writing style though. The sentences ran on for days and, although I imagine it was perfectly clear in the author's head, I could never really get invested in the story because of how it was written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LisaGabby 3 months ago
Interesting story line but just went on and on and on. Book should have been about 100 less pages. Way to much detail about absolutely everything.
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JHSEsq More than 1 year ago
Tim Johnston's second novel, The Current, cements his status as a unique, unequaled voice in contemporary fiction. Simply put, The Current, is a beautifully written, achingly heartbreaking story with authentic characters and a storyline that grabs readers by the heart and never lets go. The Current is an exploration of the enduring impact of a crime on innocent people set in the most American setting -- a small town in the Midwest. Two college students, Caroline Price and Audrey Sutter, set out on a trip to Minnesota. It is the dead of winter and Audrey needs to get home because her father is ill. She has no car or money, but Caroline has both, They don't reach their destination. Minnesota state troopers pull the car from the icy Black Root River. Caroline's body is found downriver, and Audrey is half frozen and traumatized, but alive. Their vehicle's descent into the river was no accident, and news travels quickly through the small town where Audrey's father is the former sheriff. Moreover, the incident is eerily reminiscent of an unsolved crime. Ten years ago, another young woman also lost her life in the river, and her killer has never been found and brought to justice. Audrey is determined to find answers and soon discovers that she is connected to the prior case by more than the river. As her investigation leaders her toward dangerous truths, she is disillusioned to learn that violence simmers just below the surface of her hometown about which her father's suspicions may have been well-founded. Johnston's economy of language and keen understanding of life in America's heartland effectively pull readers into the lives of his characters. Its a place where winters are long and treacherous, right is right, and there are no strangers. Against that backdrop, Johnston weaves an intricate tale about getting on with life in the face of unspeakable tragedy and the underlying rage it fuels, and the myriad ways in which small town life is not always as simple as it seems to be on the surface. The Current explores Audrey's coming of age and empowerment as she sees her hometown through adult eyes for the first time. And quietly examines the unconditional, unending love of a parent for his/her child through the perspectives of several of Johnston's characters. The story's pace is akin to the flow of the river -- constant and steady, surging at particular junctures. Ultimately, The Current is a haunting and memorable study of the ties that bind us to our loved ones and communities, and the power of events to shape our future. Johnston confirms that there is a current running through our lives that binds us together, even as it separates us in significant ways, and gives us strength when we need it most. The Current is sure to be deemed once of the best books of 2019 and become a contemporary classic. Thanks to NetGalley for an Advance Reader's Copy of the book.
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I think reading the synopsis for a book spoils the reading experience for me. Not in this case. Instead, in my eagerness to know what happened to the two young women on that cold, dark night, I made sure I set aside plenty of time to savor the story. I knew this was going to be a straight through read for me. The two girls weren’t friends, but then they were. How that came to be was a great idea by the author. It made the girls real and likable. I quickly formed a connection with them and it saddened me. I knew the events of that night would leave one of them dead. It had me wishing I could change the outcome. That, to me, is a sure sign the rest of the book will take me places I might not want to go, make me feel things on a higher level and, perhaps, give me an ending I wish were different. Not that that is a bad thing. All of those feelings, and that’s just the beginning of the book. What comes next is a string of events and reveals that had me both holding my breath, wringing my hands and thinking, oh no, that did not just happen. I read Descent, another of Tim Johnston’s books. I liked his writing and how he could pen genuine characters and have me thinking I knew what was going to happen and then taking the story in a whole other direction. I got more of that with The Current. And a boatload more suspense. Lovers of this genre need to grab a copy and dive in. Just remember to breathe.
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
Tim Johnston’s The Current feels more like classic literature rather than top-ten murder mystery, and that is not a bad thing. Every choice the author made really added to the mood and flow of his novel. The writing is very descriptive. The character development is excellent; they’re layered and nuanced. The prose flows like a river under the ice—hard and brittle like the surface at times, and yet, deep and rushing at other times. I found the third person narrative difficult to get into given the genre, but as the story tension mounted, I became more invested in the increasingly complex storyline. I have to admit that I ended up appreciating the multiple character perspective the third-person narrative allowed. The rich characters and small town relationships really drew me in. I could hear their keening at the loss and abuse of loved ones. Mr. Johnston truly makes the reader feel each fathers’ and mothers’ loss. The Current is not a fast paced novel, but its rich detail, and deep emotions will keep you invested. It really gave me pause to think about the assumptions one makes about their own safety, about presumed guilt, and safety some assume through their job/work role.
DanaLynne More than 1 year ago
I don't know if there is a category for books called "lyrical thriller" but if there is, that's what I would call Tim Johnston. The current is a multi-level story which is set in motion when a car carrying two college-age friends enters an icy river on a dark night. One girl lives and the other dies. In a strange twist of fate, Audrey, the girl who lives, was on the way to visit her father who is dying of lung cancer, and who also used to be the sheriff when, several years ago and in another state upriver, another young girl went into the river and drowned. Her attacker was never caught. The current is about the ways life flows and changes in a small town. It's about the interconnectedness of people and places and stories. It's about the dark secrets we keep and how those secrets can pull us under and drown us without any warning. Tim Johnston doesn't rely on gimmicky twists or unbelievable plot devices to manipulate emotion, He creates an exquisite tension which slowly ratchets higher until it's so deep you could drown.