Crooked River: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

"Every few years, some pompous windbag comes along and informs us that the novel is dead; that there are no new things to say and no new ways to say them. They fail to remember that novels are simply storytelling. They fail to remember that the true test of the novel's worth is not the originality of its form or the uniqueness of its expression, but the strength, beauty and compelling attraction of its tale. Crooked River delivers. Valerie Geary is the real deal."

— Conrad Silverberg

November 2014 Indie Next List

“Debut author Geary has written an engaging psychological thriller set in rural Oregon. After their mother's sudden death, Sam and Ollie McAlister move to live with their recluse beekeeper father, Bear, in a tepee in the middle of a meadow. Shortly after their arrival, a young woman is found dead in the nearby river and their father is arrested for the murder. Both girls know their father is innocent -- younger Ollie has been shown the real killer by the spirits that only she can see -- and the sisters take it into their own hands to prove their father's innocence.”
— Liz Heywood, The Babbling Book, Haines, AK


With the inventiveness and emotional power of Promise Not to Tell, The Death of Bees, and After Her, a powerful literary debut about family and friendship, good and evil, grief and forgiveness.

He is not evil. I am not good.

We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.

I see them there and wish I didn’t. I want to tell and can’t.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom’s funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie’s vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader’s hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

About the Author

Valerie Geary is the author of Crooked River, a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award. Her short stories have been published in The Rumpus and Day One. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

Praise For…

“From its gruesome first image through its three hundred taut pages—Valerie Geary’s novel is a well-conceived, psychologically dense thrill-ride. At turns surprising and imaginative, this book is nearly impossible to put down.”
— Pauls Toutonghi, Author of RED WEATHER and EVEL KNIEVEL DAYS

“CROOKED RIVER is a novel coursing with secrets and unasked questions....This novel is a literary thriller and a psychological study of the effects of loss, but most importantly, it’s a damn fine book.”
— Wiley Cash, New York TImes bestselling author of A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME and THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY

“An absorbing mystery.”
— Library Journal

“Crooked River is an ambitious debut with a beautiful soul. Geary’s dark pen is lyrical and tender boasting clever dialogue and provocative prose.”
— Lisa O'Donnell, bestselling author of THE DEATH OF BEES

“The narrative skill displayed is impressive… readers will have a hard time putting this one down.”
— Booklist

“[A] swift and beguiling read… [Sam] is finely drawn, an update on Harper Lee’s Scout.”
— BookPage

Crooked River is as much a coming-of-age novel as it is a well-paced mystery…Geary takes teenage Sam through a looking-glass and then pulls her back with an adult’s sense of loyalty and compassion--a journey equally worthwhile for all of us.”
— Shelf Awareness

“[Valerie Geary] captures her readers at once and doesn’t let them go.”
— Oklahoma City Oklahoman
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062326607
ISBN-10: 0062326600
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 21st, 2015
Pages: 352
Language: English