Jake Clay joins the Union Army after his brother dies fighting. Why? For revenge? to escape his grieving family? Either way, he is thrust into fighting in the South and is taken to Andersonville after being captured. And, wow, of course the conditions are horrible. I knew that. But he's also taken into a dark world of stealing, murdering, and surviving, and Jake isn't sure that's where he belongs. He knows it's wrong, but he wants to live. When the war ends, Jake has to decide between loyalty to the men who kept him alive in prison or his own sense of right and wrong.
The title and cover is misleading. Really, Death on the River only refers to the last quarter of the book. To me, the most interesting part was the prison setting, not the riverboat. The design of the paperback is cute, too--very Civil War-esque.