The Current

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

An atmospheric story alive with tension and emotion!

Tim Johnston has written a book that I not only Red but I felt. I felt the tension in my head, I felt the emotion in my heart, and I felt the cold in my bones. There was something so real and raw about this story. It is one of those books that will stick with you long after you turn the last page!

Audrey and Caroline are driving from their southern college to Audreys home in northern Minnesota.   Audrey is going home to see her father who is fighting cancer. As they approach audrey’s hometown they make a choice that will change everything... A bathroom break, an assault, an icy road, a narrow bridge, and the girls plummet into the icy river. Two girls go in, one comes out alive, and the other one is missing... but this was no accident.  This tragedy dredges up a similar tragedy that happened 10 years ago... a different girl, but the same River. Audrey’s father who was sheriff at  the time, headed up the investigation, but is there a connection to this current tragedy? Audrey is devastated, not only dealing with the loss of her friend, but her father’s disease. Consumed with guilt and grief Audrey investigates the past in order to come to terms with the present.  

This was a taut tense psychological crime thriller, that you will not be able to put down. I was riveted by every word in this book and drawn to every character. There is something so vulnerable about Audrey, yet she was so strong and smart, i really found myself rooting for her. The rest of the characters were equally compelling, there was something so true about each and every one of them. The mystery was brilliantly crafted full of twists and misdirection. I enjoyed every minute I spend with Audrey trying to figure out what happened 10 years ago, and if it was somehow related to her own tragedy.

An absorbing thriller full of guilt, grief, tension, miss direction, and emotion! Absolutely recommend!

🎧🎧🎧 this audiobook was narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christiensen and she did a stellar job! This is the first book I have listened to that she narrated and she really brought these characters to life.

 Song Running Through My Mind

Time, time time, see what's become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please
Don't look around
The leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Hear the Salvation Army band
Down by the riverside's, there's bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned
Carry your cup in your hand
And look around
Leaves are brown, now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Hang on to your hopes, my friend
That's an easy thing to say
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again
Look around
The grass is high
The fields are ripe
It's the springtime of my life
Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?

*** many thanks to Algonquin Books for my copy ***
Was this review helpful?
The Current is billed as a thriller.  This does the book and its author a great disservice.  Literary fiction is a more apt description for this book.  Although the plot was dragged down somewhat by alternating between past and present, the character development and multiple layers to the story line make this for an interesting read. Add a strong sense of place and beautifully written descriptions of the small town where the book takes place and the Current is a solid addition to the mystery/fiction genre.
Was this review helpful?
An intriguing book, the story of two college girls ending up in a river. One lives, one dies. Similar to the same circumstances 10 years before when Holly Burke died in a river. While I enjoyed the story, I was surprised about the ending or lack there of!
Was this review helpful?
This book started off great, but the format was such that it didn't keep my interest as a reader and I quickly gave up. I personally have a hard time reading third person narration and when there is no distinct separation of dialog it made the paragraphs run together. I may go back and try this one again some time.
Was this review helpful?
This book was a lot better than I expected.  It started off a little strange but it definitely grows on you.  I love the way the author writes from a different person's perspective and keeps switching it up so you have to really pay attention. The story is about two girls who end up in a river. The same river a girl drowned in 10 years previously. The story revolves around all the people involved in the original drowning with the reader travelling back and forth in time.  A very interesting read, well written. I have to give it five stars which I rarely do.
Was this review helpful?
Two similar tragedies years apart bring pain and unresolved issues from the past to a small town. Johnston tries to capture the devastation of loss and its ripples throughout a community, and in its ensuing years. He pays great care to the psychological trauma which sudden and unexplained death can cause for many connected to the victim, but ultimately the novel doesn't have a satisfying ending despite its resolution. After meeting so many intro-scene-focused characters (every new person had a quirk and it became exhausting) it was difficult to track the supporting cast. A jumble amid heartfelt work illuminating the layers of grief and loneliness from the worst of human–and family–experiences.
Was this review helpful?
WHOA! Well well, this is my first novel from Johnston. So I’m going to start saying it was a bit confusing for me timeline wise (NOTE: this didn’t have any negative impact in my rating). The Current was packed with suspense, following the aftermath of an accident that left one girl dead and her friend in the hospital. Very intriguing. My big issue here and the reason why I’m not giving it 5 star is because of THE ENDING! I am so confused!!!!! I wanted/needed closure!
Was this review helpful?
This book was rough to get through, thanks to the writer's style. The non-use of quotations when characters talk...the shifting between characters' POVs within the same page...It got quite annoying. The pace was glacial, so if you're looking for a fast-moving thriller, this is not it. While others will like this for the slow moving, atmospheric read that it is...I think most will be bored.
Was this review helpful?
There's snow and ice and a car plunging into a dark river in The Current (Algonquin, review copy), Tim Johnston's riveting second novel after the very good The Descent. It's the dead of a Minnesota winter when state troopers recover an SUV and two young women from the Black Root River. Audrey Sutter is half-frozen but alive; her friend Caroline has drowned. With echoes of a similar incident in which a young woman drowned in the same river a decade ago, this new tragedy is no accident. Audrey discovers the townspeople she thought she knew -- the father of the first dead girl, a suspect who was a teenager at the time, her father the former sheriff -- are harboring secrets and regrets. The plot is layered, Johnston's writing evocative. The Current carries you along inexorably, the way good stories do.

from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever
Was this review helpful?
Predator and prey

It's difficult to follow up a stellar book like DESCENT, which is this author's first book. DESCENT is a book I will keep for my permanent library and probably read again one future day. It's that good.

But Johnston followed through and here we have THE CURRENT. I won't be keeping it for my library and I won't read it again. But am I glad I read it this time? Absolutely! I wouldn't have wanted to miss it. is a dark book. It delves into the dichotomy of every person, between our public face and selves and the one we keep hidden, allowing out rarely, if at all.

The story is told from many perspectives, most based in a small town in Minnesota. And it is based on two similar events, ten years apart from each other. Both events are explored in depth and many viewpoints are shown to the reader of both.

The most recent event centers around two college girls driving to Minnesota because the father of one has terminal cancer. The ten-year old event happened in the small town in Minnesota to another girl and both events center around the same river in winter.

While I hardly looked up from the pages of DESCENT once I started reading it - the lyricism and power of the written word drew me in - this book I had to keep putting aside, I guess recovering a bit from the way it made me feel. And it does make you feel. That's not a bad thing for an author to do but it was uncomfortable for me. 

This is also an exceptional book - filled with light and dark and love and hate and sorrow and regret. And bitterness and lust and anger.
I highly recommend it but be forewarned - it leaves you a bit changed once you finish it.

I received this book from Algonquin Books through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
It took me a while to pick up this book because I was unsure how I would feel about it. I ended up loving it so much more than I thought I would! The Current begins as two college girls, Caroline and Audrey, make their way to Audrey's father's house in Minnesota. They crash before they get there and the car is pulled from a river. Audrey is the only survivor. The accident brings up flashbacks of a similar ten years before, where another young woman lost her life. It begins to seem that a killer may live among them, and Audrey learns she is connected to this other young girl.

The Current does not move like your classic thriller or murder mystery. It is much more character driven and eerily atmospheric. Don't come into this book expecting something fast-paced. I love Johnston's fluid writing style, and I thought he developed his characters so well. Even the ones that only had a brief section in the book were still complete people. It made it so easy to get wrapped up in the story and immersed in the words.

There was a bit of switching between past and present that I found to be slightly confusing at times because I only knew it was the past through context. However, other than that I found this to be a beautiful work of fiction. I also listened to the audiobook and the narrator is fantastic. I was convinced there were really five narrators instead of just one. If you like audiobooks you should definitely check it out!
Was this review helpful?
Interesting characters and a plot that moves along with out being a classic roller coaster ride of a thriller. Keeps you guessing just because it violates some of the usual tropes. Captures a good vibe of the midwest.
Was this review helpful?
Two incidents in a frozen river - 10 years apart - two deaths but one girl makes it out alive.  The one thing I liked about this novel was the small town setting - I believe Tim Johnston did an excellent job of describing the nuances of a small town and the mindset of people who live in one.  But I had trouble getting through this book.  The movement from one narrator to another didn't flow well for me - it was confusing.  There are many characters but they were not developed well enough for me to get an affinity for any of them.  The one character, Danny, whom I did want to see a resolution for his predicament was left flying in the wind - the ending left us not knowing what happened to him - was he dead or alive?  A lot of questions - not enough answers for me -
Was this review helpful?
The Current is the first book by Tim Johnston that I have read. After reading it, I will be reading Descent as well. From the book description of The Current, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I was expecting a typical thriller - which I love, please don't get me wrong! I love thrillers, mysteries, crime fiction - all of it! However, The Current is also much more than any of those. I was not expecting the depth of mood and atmosphere that I encountered. There is also such an exploration of emotions, understanding of life, people and their motivations.

I was completely drawn into the drama of the plot, but mesmerized by the descriptions of the land, the river, the nature that helps shape the people that populate the novel and the small towns where it takes place. I loved the masterful exploration of the thoughts and feelings of the characters as they work through their reactions to the events that occur in the present and the past. 

I  honestly was surprised at how complex and well written the novel was. I hadn't expected to encounter an almost poetic atmosphere in what seemed would be a typical thriller. The Current is wonderful thriller, but with depth and a wonderful exploration of the strength and determination of the characters. I definitely will be recommending it to my friends.
Was this review helpful?
⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5 rounded up. 

Well, I did not like The Current by Tim Johnston as much as I liked his novel Descent, but it was still a captivating read that pulls at your heartstrings. 

What it's about: 2 college students, Caroline Price and Audrey Sutter, are on a road trip from their college campus in Georgia to Minnesota so Audrey can see her dying father. It is the dead of winter, and Caroline's car ends up going into the river, with only one of them making it out alive. Years earlier another girl was pulled from the river, and Audrey's sheriff father never did arrest anyone for it. Could these deaths be related? One father is desperate to find out. 

I wouldn't really call this book a thriller, but it is definitely a very emotional mystery. I ended up being hooked from the very beginning, and was very intrigued by the writing voice Johnston went with. Like I said at the beginning of my review, The Current is an emotional novel that makes you think about father/daughter bonds, and how far family will go to protect each other. 

The different perspectives that Johnston chose to use made a small town in Minnesota seem even smaller, and also causes you to think about how crime effects a small town and the people in it. The Current is a thinker of a book that is a slow-burn mystery with lots of focus on the characters.

Final Thought: There is a lot of soul to the books that Johnston writes, and they always make me think about things that I normally wouldn't focus on in a mystery. [book:The Current|36387759 is a lot more than your standard mystery novel, and I would recommend to people that like lots of depth to their novels. Both character wise, and plot wise. Just keep in mind that a thriller it is not, but the mystery will surprise you, and the ending seemed to come out of nowhere for me.
Was this review helpful?
I had been wanting to read this  and it did not disappoint! Kept my interest until the very end. Very suspenseful.
Was this review helpful?
What begins as a novel about a car going into a frigid river and only one of the occupants making it out alive turns into a multi-layered story about a small Minnesota town and how the past doesn’t always stay in the past. Audrey is the girl who survives the crash that killed her friend, but she is still faced with seeing her father in his final days as he’s dying of cancer. A former sheriff in town, he takes with him the guilt over not solving the case of Holly Burke, another young girl who died in the same river ten years ago. Tim Johnston’s new novel, The Current, ripples out in ever widening circles of impact as the new accident reignites interest in the old case. Soon old wounds are reopened and everyone in town is pulled under by grief and guilt.

On Monday I wrote about Johnston’s debut, Descent, a novel that epitomized slow-burn tension. I had to keep reading because I had to know what happened. This didn’t happen with The Current. Instead, I found little tension. The initial premise of a car being forced off the road and into a river is discarded as the past crime takes over. That’s fine, but Holly’s murder doesn’t have enough suspense to propel the novel. This is compounded by Johnston’s movement between past and present—which is slippery and uneven with many of the segues between the two timelines being made within the same paragraph. (After finishing the book, I compared the Kindle version I had (an advance copy) with a friend’s print version and entire chapter designations are ignored and turned into one long paragraph.) Unfortunately, this negatively impacted my perception of the novel but shouldn’t be as much of a problem in the finished version.

Formatting and pacing aside, there is no doubt Johnston can write characters. The Current reminded me of Kent Haruf—lean prose about small town life, mistakes made, evil hidden. Johnston does a marvelous job immersing the reader in his world, but the novel loses me as a mystery/thriller. Yes, there’s a mystery, but it didn’t feel like the center of novel. If you’re itching for suspense and drama, The Current is not likely to satisfy as much as a traditional thriller. But if you want a novel that dives deep with beautiful, simple observations about life then The Current will sweep you away.
Was this review helpful?
Tom 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.

I received a copy of The Current from Algonquin Books through NetGalley  in exchange for my honest review.  For more reading recommendations, visit Book Junkie Reviews at
Was this review helpful?
The scene where Caroline and Audrey go onto the ice and into the river is one of the most harrowing you'll read this year.  This story starts with their tragedy and then expands into a ten year old case- when young Holly was hit by a car and then thrown into the river.  The back and forth in time can be a bit confusing in spot but at it's core, this isn't about Audrey (although she's a wonderful character), it's about who killed Holly.  You never get a sense of Holly but that doesn't much matter.  Danny, Rachel, Gordon, and the various law enforcement officers are all more important and quite well drawn.  The death of Wyatt the dog is the catalyst for a push for the truth.  Think about that one.  This flags a bit in spots but the writing is wonderful.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  Try this for a mystery wrapped in an enigma in a snowy climate.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunate, I was not able to finish this book. I struggled getting into it and found myself putting it down to come back to later over and over again. The plot of the story was intriguing immediately and I would be open to trying to read this at a later point in time, it just wasn’t the book for me right now.
Was this review helpful?