Broken River opens with the minutiae of a crime scene and is followed by a general sense of foreboding as the inevitable looms. The story unfolds through the eyes of a number of characters and also an enigmatic observer. As you read you get this sense that you're watching the story being played out from behind a one way mirror. It has a distinctive writing style which could take a few pages to get used to but is also proves very effective.
After the woman with the books exits the coffee shop, the man in the windbreaker sits in silence for fifteen minutes, blinking, exuding heat. At last he stands up from the tiny table, jostling the patron sitting behind him: a pale, strawberry-bearded man in conversation with a willowy, sleepy-looking young woman. The bearded man's mouth opens, as though to issue a complaint, but then he swivels around, allowing himself a view of his tormentor. His mouth abruptly shuts. This small series of events appears to catch the young woman's attention. It rouses her from her torpor. Her gaze follows the man in the windbreaker as he makes his calmly bullying way through the crowd, and when she returns it to the bearded man, it is as though she is seeing him in a new light.