Review: The St. Marys River stars in Charles Martin's 'Where the River Ends'

Doss Michaels is in trouble. He has decided to honor a last wish of his dying wife, Abbie, by taking her on a 130-mile canoe trip on the St. Marys River.

Abbie's father, a senator, is holding news conferences and sending search parties to find the missing couple. Officials have camera footage of Doss stealing narcotics from a doctor's office (which he needs for Abbie, whose cancer has metastasized). And then there are the four scary, shifty men who are tailing Doss and Abbie. What do they want?

Where the River Ends is the mainstream debut of Christian fiction writer Charles Martin (When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies). In alternating chapters, Martin tells the story of Doss and Abbie's adventures on the river and of their courtship and eventual marriage.

Martin lives in Jacksonville, and his writing shines in his almost mystical descriptions of the St. Marys River, the eastern boundary between Florida and Georgia. The river is a character in its own right. "Don't think her impersonal and don't doubt her," Doss says. "She is far more in tune with you than you are."

Doss, a former river guide, explains that "while she may run under one name, she is, in actuality, four rivers." He and Abbie will explore all of its personalities.

Also vividly drawn are the people who live, play or work on its banks. Doss and Abbie encounter all kinds of people on their trip: criminals, partiers, Crackers, naturists, good ol' boys and kayakers. Some help them in their quest to reach the Atlantic, and others do their best to stop them.

Unfortunately, the main characters are not as well developed as the river. Abbie and Doss are strangely one-dimensional. The novel is also flawed by implausible events that occur throughout the story. Still, fans of Florida fiction and inspirational fiction should find much to interest them.

Holly Fults can be reached at hfults@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2944.

Where the River Ends

By Charles Martin

Broadway Books, 375 pages, $19.95

Charles Martin will be a featured author at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 25.

Review: The St. Marys River stars in Charles Martin's 'Where the River Ends' 10/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 2:13pm]

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