2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: Black River by Matthew Spencer

Title: Black River

Author:  Matthew Spencer

Published: May 31st 2022

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 360

Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thriller, Suspense

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

Black River is the most compelling thriller you’ll read this year.

A long, burning summer in Sydney. A young woman found murdered in the deserted grounds of an elite boarding school. A serial killer preying on victims along the banks of the Parramatta River. A city on edge.

Adam Bowman, a battling journalist who grew up as the son of a teacher at Prince Albert College, might be the only person who can uncover the links between the school murder and the ‘Blue Moon Killer’. But he will have to go into the darkest places of his childhood to piece together the clues. Detective Sergeant Rose Riley, meanwhile, is part of the taskforce desperately trying to find the killer before he strikes again. Adam Bowman’s excavation of his past might turn out to be Rose’s biggest trump card or it may bring the whole investigation crashing down, and put her own life in danger.

Taut, suspenseful and utterly compelling, Black River is the best thriller you’ll read this year.


Black River is the first crime fiction release from former journalist Matthew Spencer. A taut, creepy and knife-edge style thriller, Black River is a high calibre novel that slots very easily into the Australian crime noir genre.

In Black River, we witness a city gripped by fear, as a brutal series of murders occur in Sydney. Investigative journalist Adam Bowman believes he can crack this heinous killer’s code. However, to uncover the Blue Moon Killer’s M.O. Adam will need to dig deep into his painful past to extract the answers to this baffling crime case. Hot on this prolific killer’s tail is Detective Rose Riley, who is determined to put a stop to this vicious killer before more victims are claimed. It is a deadly game of cat and mouse, as this illusive killer tries to avoid capture. Will the combined efforts of Detective Rose and dogged journalist Adam Bowman close this deadly chapter?

Black River came with a big endorsement from Allen and Unwin Publishing Director Tom Gilliatt. With a such a glowing reference, an intriguing synopsis and atmospheric cover, I was keen to start Black River.

Black River is a serial killer-based crime fiction novel set locally in Sydney. I really appreciated the familiar references and location points of this novel. It gave the book a rather chilly and fearful tone. Spencer does a good job illuminating his setting, with the river backdrop acting as the perfect playground for a killer to strike and to dump bodies. The added bonus of an elite school as a further reference point for this deranged killer to strike was utilised well by Spencer.

Struggling journalist Adam Bowman was perfectly cast as this book’s prime protagonist. I enjoyed the set focus on Adam’s work in the reporting field, it was quite eye opening as to how pressure filled this job can be. Spencer also draws on Adam’s past to flesh out this plot and the lead’s connection to the case. With plenty of red herrings, crazy twists, storyline blocks and deviations, Matthew Spencer has penned a well written crime tale. The ending was worth the wait as it ties everything together.

Matthew Spencer makes a grand entrance into the Australia crime fiction genre with Black River. I hope we hear more from Mathew Spencer very soon, he is definitely a literary star on the rise!

Black River by Matthew Spencer was published on 31st May 2022 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Black River, Matthew Spencer, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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