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  • River Thieves

  • Written by: Michael Crummey
  • Narrated by: David Ferry
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

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River Thieves

Written by: Michael Crummey
Narrated by: David Ferry
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Publisher's Summary

At the turn of the 19th century, naval officer David Buchan arrives in the Bay of Exploits with orders to establish contact with the Beothuk or "Red Indians", the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland facing extinction. When Buchan approaches the area's most influential white settlers, the Peytons, for advice and assistance, he enters a shadowy world of allegiances and old grudges that he can only dimly apprehend. His closest ally, John Peyton Jr., maintains an uneasy balance between duty to his father - a domineering patriarch with a reputation as a ruthless persecutor of the Beothuk - and his troubled conscience. When Buchan's peace expedition into "Indian country" goes awry, the rift between father and son deepens and begins to divide those closest to them.

Years later, a second expedition leads to the kidnapping of an Indian woman and the murder of her husband, and Buchan returns to investigate. As the officer attempts to uncover what really happened on the Red Indians' lake, a delicate web of obligation and debt slowly unravels.

An enthralling story of great passion and suspense, vividly set in the stark Newfoundland landscape and driven by an extraordinary cast of characters, River Thieves captures both the vast sweep of history and the intimate lives of those caught in its wake.

©2019 Michael Crummey (P)2019 Doubleday Canada

What the critics say

2001, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Nominated

“It is a novel full of poetic metaphor and memorable images. The language and phrases of the time are richly used, and through meticulous detail it manages to breathe life into past ways. Most of all, it creates a vivid portrait of Newfoundland of another era.” (The Globe and Mail)

“A rip-roaring adventure tale if ever there was one … An exceptionally accomplished work of historical fiction that revels in the art of storytelling….River Thieves is an auspicious debut for Crummey. His next novel can’t come soon enough.” (Calgary Herald)

What listeners say about River Thieves

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Michael Crummey

As hoped for, River Thieves provided exquisite story telling as only Michael Crummey can write. The imagery, prose, turn of phrase and commitment to an important historical theme, keeps me enthralled with his work. David Ferry gives authentic voices to the characters in a way that allows the listener to identify them and to experience the uniqueness of their stories. Read this book if you have a curiosity about the Beothuk’s and what life was like in Newfoundland way back when. I gave this book a 4 star because I favour Sweetland as Crummey’s best work read so far!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 2023-08-02

Beautifully told and heartbreaking in its truths.

As only Michael Crummey can - he weaves this tale with a haunting language and vision. The story of a people almost lost to history. The pace was perfect and the characters well rounded. A heartbreaking end so cloaked in a subtle grief laden prose that honours the losses.

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