Reviews: ‘The River’s Tale’

River Tales front cover final

Denton Publications

“The River’s Tale was a great read, but I’m left wondering, ‘What’s next?’ Will we see more of Alison and Wallace in the future? Will Kirkland find more mysteries to solve? And how many psycho girlfriends will he go through to do it? … It would be a shame to drop the series now. Virtanen should keep those Jack Kirkland books coming.”–Andy Flynn

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The Daily Gazette

“Virtanen is a capable writer. His writing has a visual quality to it; a reader could see these books as television episodes or a movie. The River’s Tale and Within a Forest Dark are short books, under 200 pages. This brevity harkens back to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery novels, which were also short, filled with memorable characters and a firm sense of place.”–John Rowen

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Adirondack Daily Enterprise  

“This is Michael Virtanen’s second novel, following his 2007 Within a Forest Dark. His books are well-plotted and his characters real. The three major characters in The River’s Tale are both familiar and individualized. Alison is not the first woman who has to flee a violent jerk; LaFleur is not the first woodsy philosopher we’ve met; Lottie is not the first isolated, cantankerous naturalist. But Virtanen’s characters are not just types. They are people, and the reader learns to care about them. The River’s Tale is like a ride down a river we’ve been on before – providing both familiar sights and surprises around the bend.”    –Jerry McGovern

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Readers’ Comments 

“The River’s Tale is a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing summer novel. It flowed effortlessly and evoked memories of the cool water of Fourth Lake and the smell of pines in the Adirondacks when I was a kid. The attention to detail in the rafting scenes made the action real. Mike clearly is a gifted writer who knows how to entertain and keep his readers interested. Keep writing, Mike. I’m a huge fan.” — Virginia Hunt, Las Vegas, NV


“Michael Virtanen has a keen eye for the nature and dynamics of human relationships, and he once again brings that eye to bear in his new and highly readable novel, The River’s Tale. Virtanen is also a skilled storyteller who knows how to pepper a suspenseful plot line with astute observations on the human condition. It’s extremely rare to find such intelligence in a thriller. That’s what makes this book–and Virtanen’s work in general–such a pleasure to read.”–Scott Wallace, author of The Unconquered


“This is a story that will stay with me, as the intelligent and vulnerable Alison Reade, her disturbed former boyfriend Will, her eccentric Aunt Lottie and the veteran if not quite grizzled river guide Wallace Lefleur  all came memorably to life. These are complex characters who get caught up in events they can’t control but are all too grounded in realism, while the evocation of back corners of the Adirondacks — the places where the roar of the Hudson River’s rapids is a primal force — is dead-on. The River’s Tale manages the trick of being both a taut page-turning suspense novel and a work of literature, something that offers fresh insights into the human condition.”–Steve Williams, Ballston, NY


“Mike Virtanen’s prequel to Within a Forest Dark is one of those rare second books in a series that is equally compelling as the first. As a native central New Yorker, I always enjoy reading about sites that I can identify with, and Mike excellently paints a picture of what you are seeing … you feel as if you are there. His development of the characters makes you want to get to know them better (I especially liked Aunt Lottie) or make you glad they aren’t really around (Alison’s boyfriend). I was intrigued right up until the end! Good read. Five stars.”–Jeannine Morgan Grossman, New Hartford, NY