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Fiction General

The River Murder

by (author) Patrick J. Collins

Flanker Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

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It’s an early June morning, 1884. The tiny community of Riverhead, Harbour Grace, is on edge after the gruesome discovery of yet another body. A thirty-five-year-old deaf man, Thomas Callahan, was found floating in the Bannerman River with a gunshot wound to his chest.



It had already been very tense in the small village. Over the last four months, Judge Thomas Bennett had overseen two concurrent Ministerial Inquiries at the Harbour Grace courthouse which resulted in rulings that went against strong public sentiment in the Riverhead enclave. This was on the heels of a major sectarian riot that happened four months earlier—the Harbour Grace Affray, as it became known, had resulted in the brutal killing of five people.

Head Constable Doyle, who had been accused of shooting a Riverhead man, was fully exonerated and reinstated with full power and authority to his position by Judge Bennett. Just days later, Judge Bennett ordered the immediate arrest of nineteen men from Riverhead and sent them to prison in St. John’s to face a trial at the Supreme Court.

At the epicentre of this volatile and explosive setting, Sergeant Sean Ryan—a twelve-year police veteran, having served in Cork, Ireland, with the Royal Irish Constabulary and now enlisted with the Terra Nova Constabulary—finds himself investigating the murder of Thomas Callahan, who happens to be the son of Patrick Callahan, the man allegedly shot dead by Head Constable Doyle during the Affray.


Unknown to Sergeant Ryan, he had been strategically transferred to the Harbour Grace station by Constabulary Chief Paul Carty to police the community of Riverhead. The move gave the Constabulary at Harbour Grace a policeman, the only officer in the station who hadn’t been involved in Harbour Grace Affray on that fateful day.


However, Chief Carty had incorrectly concluded that Sergeant Ryan would easily gain the trust of the Riverhead people simply because he was a Roman Catholic and had distant relatives from Cork living right there in the community. The chief had badly misjudged just how complex the social issues between Riverhead and Harbour Grace really were.








Although Sergeant Ryan had visited his distant cousins some years before, he is greatly challenged to gain their trust and acceptance as a peace officer. He faces stubborn resistance as he navigates the troubled waters largely agitated by years of mistrust, systemic prejudice, and corruption. Things grow complicated for Ryan, himself stricken with a serious mental issue for which there seemed to be no cure, when he tries to regain the love of Leah Thomey, a woman with whom he had a previous love affair.


Every move Sergeant Ryan makes is challenged. In River Murder, author Patrick J. Collins will carry you to the bitter end before you discover who really killed Thomas Callahan.





About the author

Patrick Collins is a writer and retired educator who has taught in various communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. He finished his career in education as a curriculum program specialist, working in several school districts on the Avalon Peninsula and in Western Labrador. Patrick also worked as a sales and marketing representative with Lifetouch Canada until June 2011. He recently retired as a sessional instructor at the Canadian Training Institute in Bay Roberts. Pat’s eleventh and most recent work, The Body on the Beach, is a novel inspired by the true events surrounding a woman, Alice Williams, who died under mysterious and suspicious circumstances. The cause of her death has never been revealed. His literary works published since 2010 are as follows: a biography of Dr. Charles Cron, A Doctor for All Time: A Man Who Cured Our Hearts; The Harbour Grace Affray; The Spirit of the SS Kyle; Murder at Mosquito Cove; Belonging; Forsaken Children; Gibbet Hill; What Lies Below; The Fairy Ring; and Tales Through Time. Born and raised in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, Patrick J. Collins continues to enjoy researching and writing in his retirement. He can be reached by email at

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