Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review - This Dark Road to Mercy

I finished a terrific novel a few nights back by someone who is a new author to me. The book was Wiley Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy (2014, 230 pages). This is Cash's second novel. The first, A Land More Kind than Home, received very good reviews, and if it is anything like this one I can understand why.

The story centers on the Quillby sisters, Easter and Ruby (ages 12 and 6), who end up in foster care following the death of their drug addict mother. They are taken from their foster home in the middle of the night by their father, a troubled man they barely know, and who had signed away his parental rights. In addition to being on the run for taking his children, he is also being pursued by a hired gun for something else he had been involved in. The plot is at times predictable, but then again most are.

It's a compelling story, told from the rotating vantage of three of the main characters. In some ways it reminded me a lot of James Lee Burke, or even John D MacDonald from back in the day (both Grand Masters of the Mystery Writers of America) - plot that pulls you in and keeps turning the page, an easy style that makes for an effortless read, and believable flawed characters that often ultimately end up likable (with a heartless evil guy thrown in for good measure). It is also reminiscent of another North Carolina author, and one of my favorites, Ron Rash. This is a thriller in a sense, but one that simmers rather than boils (if that makes sense), and I almost hesitate to call it that because thrillers often have the stigma of being less of a book than something that has pretentions to being "literature." No matter what you call it, this is a fine book.

4.5 stars out of 5. This supplants "...Oscar Wao"as the best book of the year so far in the early running.

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