River-based crime stories compose the anthology “Down to the River,” edited by locally connected author Tim O’Mara, including one describing the view of the Missouri Capitol as sunset light bounces from its limestone exterior.
The anthology will hit the shelves April 22 with a list price of $15.95, available at online retailers as well as in Jefferson City at both Downtown Book & Toy locations. It is published by Down & Out Books.
“Down to the River” was created in support of American Rivers, a national organization formed in 1973 with a mission of protecting and restoring rivers in the U.S.
“Rivers are great settings for stories, so it just seems natural that I would ask a bunch of crime writers to put together some stories that had to do with rivers and use it to support the work of a group called American Rivers,” O’Mara said.
Twenty-four crime writers, including New York Times bestselling author Reed Farrel Coleman and Edgar-winning author Bruce DeSilva, collaborated to create the anthology of 22 stories with rivers across the United States providing the settings. Once the book is published, all rights to the stories go back to the authors.
“I went out of my way to invite people from different backgrounds and different geographic regions,” O’Mara said.
Each story stands alone, providing a distinct tone and style. Reading one would give you some knowledge about a river, he said, but reading them together gives the reader much more.
O’Mara wrote the shortest story in the book, “50/50,” about two brothers who consider the Missouri River their own.
Originally from New York near the Hudson River, O’Mara considers Jefferson City his second home, often visiting family and kayaking creeks around Central Missouri.
O’Mara said he created the idea for the book after working on an anthology called “Unloaded,” which supported States United Against Gun Violence.
“I thought it was such a great idea that I looked at my own life and said ‘What’s really important to me?’ And to me, my main concern in the environment,” he said.
By supporting American Rivers, O’Mara said, he hopes the anthology erodes through partisan lines and draws attention to one of America’s key economic and recreational resources. Rivers connect everyone, and pollution affects everyone, he said.
According to American Rivers, 44 percent of assessed waterways in the United States are too polluted for fishing or swimming and 40 percent of North America’s freshwater species are at risk of extinction.
“I just hope there’s enough people out there who have a love of nature and a love of crime fiction,” O’Mara said.