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This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 28, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2014: This Dark Road to Mercy is equal parts family drama, Southern Gothic thriller, and road trip novel. Actually, it's more of a chase. After the sudden death of their mother, young sisters Easter and Ruby are sent to a foster home. Their long-absent father Wade appears and takes them in the middle of the night. As Wade and his girls travel west, to a destination unknown even to Wade, the three are being tracked down by their legal guardian, an ex-cop named Brady, and an ex-con named Pruitt, who has sinister intentions for Wade. Like Cash's terrific debut A Land More Kind Than Home, Mercy wrestles with themes of redemption. The perspectives alternate between Easter, Brady, and Pruitt, each with a unique view of Wade, whose own secrets slowly unravel throughout the course of Cash's dark and delicate novel. When all three characters converge--at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, no less--we discover Wade at his most honest self: a father who turns out to be too little, too late. --Kevin Nguyen
More About the Author
The inspiration for This Dark Road to Mercy began with a beautiful story my wife told me about her childhood, and this led me to recall a tragic story from my own past. I'll begin by sharing the story I heard, and then I'll tell you about the story I already knew.
According to my wife, when she was a little girl she was an incredibly talented baseball player, but she had only one weakness in her game: she didn't know how to slide into base. To remedy this, after her father arrived home from work in the summertime, the two of them would walk to the baseball field behind the grade school she attended, and they'd take turns sliding into third base, her father lending his encouragement and offering tips to help her feel more comfortable.
I invite you to picture the image she painted for me: it's dusk on a summer evening in the American South; a father and his daughter are alone on an empty baseball field, taking turns sliding into base; the sound of crickets rises from the woods on the edge of the field; fireflies glow in the dusk; a car quietly passes on the road in front of the baseball field and slows down for a moment, taking in the scene. The car's windows are down and you are inside it: you can hear the crickets, you can feel the warm, humid air, and when you look out toward the baseball field, what do you see?
My wife's story is an emotionally touching story to hear, and I wanted to write about that girl and her father, but I knew it wouldn't necessarily make for a compelling read. Readers like more complications, more drama, less innocence and purity and much less simplicity. So I reimagined the scene: the little girl is out there playing ball with her friends one day after school, and when she slides into third base she stands up, dusts herself off, and spies her father sitting up in the stands, watching her. All she can think is Why is that loser here?
When it came time to write my second novel after the publication of A Land More Kind Than Home, I returned to the story my wife had told me, and I once again conjured the image of the lone girl and her loser father, and I thought of ways to complicate it. I wondered if this girl had a younger sibling she had to care for, and it was then that I remembered two young girls I'd known growing up in North Carolina. They were foster children, and when I met them they were being raised by an elderly couple that went to my church. The oldest girl was my age, and her sister was about three years younger. I knew them for a few years, but eventually they went back to live with their birth mother, and I never saw them again because we didn't go to the same school.
A few years later, I heard the girls' names on the local news; they'd been murdered by their boyfriends, two grown men who suspected the sisters of stealing drugs from them. The oldest was fifteen, and her sister was twelve. The two men had picked the girls up at their mother's home the night before and driven them out into the country. There, at the base of a mountain, they cut the girls' throats, buried them in shallow graves, and covered their bodies with lime.
I invite you to picture the image that has been in my mind for years: it's well past dark on a weeknight in the American South; two young sisters are riding in a truck with their much older boyfriends, both of whom seem nervous and don't have much to say; the streets are empty, and the girls hear the sound of the truck's tires as they move from pavement to gravel and then to dirt; the driver parks the truck and tells the two sisters to get out.
After almost twenty years, I found that I couldn't stop thinking about those two little girls and the tragedy that had befallen them. I wondered about their lives, about an adult who would allow minor girls to date grown men, about grown men who would murder children in cold blood.
Before I knew it, the story of the two sisters merged with the story my wife had told me, and I began to add my own fictive elements: two sisters are languishing in foster care; their missing father returns and kidnaps them, desperately hoping for another chance at raising his family. But things can't be that simple. Hot on the father's trail are two very different men: a violent bounty hunter with a years' old vendetta and an ex-cop who's the girls' court-appointed guardian.
This Dark Road to Mercy was inspired by both beauty and tragedy, innocence and evil, and these conflicting elements drive the novel. The two girls in my novel don't suffer the same fate as the two sisters I once knew, but they nonetheless are forced into an adult world before they're emotionally prepared to confront it, and their lives will never be the same. But, at its core, the book is about mercy, and that's what the two sisters in my novel are shown. I only wish that the two young girls I knew could've been shown the same mercy. Their tragedy haunts me still.
Top Customer Reviews
Easter and Ruby, two young sisters in foster care are awaiting a home because their mother overdoses and their father, a wayfaring drifter whose scope is aimed at an easy dollar, left years before. One night he kidnaps the girls from their bedroom and Easter, 12, is a prominent narrator of the debacle she and Ruby find themselves in. Though the police give a half-assed look into the case, their ex-partner, Brady Weller, now turned guardian ad litem, grabs up the case in a fire's flaring hurry. He's aware that Wade stole something that belongs to a criminal. A ruthless, soulless hit man, Pruitt, is hired to find Wade and his kids; leave the first dead and return the latter. Such enthralling suspense occurs that your skin is actually crawling; your brain is embedded with the characters and the plot line. I read it in one day. I tried putting it down, but my mind was hooked till the last word.
Though a bit dark at times, this reads more gently than one would think.
Cash deserves all the favor that is befalling him. His southern writing cohorts must be proud to gather round in praise.
P.S. As a sideline this author, Cash, could be writing book titles...it is what caught me the first time and I admired this title too. :-)
This is the second novel of Wiley Cash but only the first one I have read and it is already clear to me that he is a writer at the top of his form.
This is masterful storytelling that crackles with a tactile tension that immediately pulled me into its narrative power and held me captive in its sure, dramatic clutches. The narrative voice alternates between three of the story's main characters, people who are brought so fully alive in only a few quick pages that I quickly felt familiar with each of them and especially endeared to the youngest ones.
The novel's main character and deeply affecting heroine is a baseball-loving twelve year old girl on the cusp of womanhood, Easter Quillby.Read more ›
This book was easy to read, well written, and captivating. The characters were well developed. The chapters alternate between Easter's point of view, the social workers point of view, and the thug's (that is searching for Wade) point of view. This made the story much more interesting, as we get to know each of these characters well.
I liked the story, it was okay, I just didn't love it. It was an entertaining read, but it wasn't as great as the description made it out to be.
It's quite a heavy sounding title and as you might expect having seen the book's cover, this tale is somewhat stormy. Easter and her sister Ruby are living in foster care, after the sudden death of their mother. Easter is used to caring for herself and her sister, but when her father Wade returns, she apprehensively follows his lead. In the middle of the night, he takes the two girls, fleeing those whom he owes money, and trying to provide his daughters with the father they deserve. Ultimately, it is not only the police who are trying to hunt down the trio, but also more sinister and vengence-motivated forces who threaten to destroy the lives of all three.
The world that Cash conjures is irrefutably gritty, yet it also bears a Southern gentleness. The book strikes a delicate, yet poised balance between the dark characteristics of its antagonist(s) and the innocence of Easter and her sister. Easter's voice shines from within the recesses of this otherwise overcast world. It was her story that caught me from the start, and despite the shifting narration from chapter to chapter, it was Easter who propelled my reading of the novel forward.
I think the categorization of This Dark Road to Mercy by critics as a work of the Southern Gothic genre is spot on. It might take a little thinking back to earlier school days to recall this genre. His work evokes the aspects of the writings of historical greats, including Truman Capote, Harper Lee, and Cormac McCarthy. It's a bit of the setting of Capote's In Cold Blood, mixed with the dangerous undertones of To Kill A Mockingbird, and the love amidst desolation of McCarthy's The Road.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was extremely well written. There's not much to add to the previous reviews without giving away things. I recommend this book - especially since it's free. Read morePublished 10 days ago by happygrandparent
The premise of “This Dark Road” is pretty solid but the conflicts were so coincidental and serendipitous that it read more like a Nancy Drew mystery than the Southern Gothic novel... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shelia Bolt Rudesill, Author
Good book and the second one I have read from Cash. It is well written and reminds me of Cormac McCarthy in the focus on violence and character development. Read morePublished 1 month ago by NCman
It is novels like these that make me wish the ratings system allowed half stars. If it did, This Dark Road to Mercy would receive 4.5. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Zippee
excellent read. interesting twists and plot with characters that have good depth. Enjoyed this one almost as much as his first novel - A land more kind than home which I really... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steven Peterson
Loved the story. However, the book is MUCH too short. Come on only 200 pages and the book cost $10.00 - $11.00. That didn't make me happy.Published 4 months ago by Judith Johnson-cohen
Two young girls kidnapped by their father, in the summer that both Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire were trying to brake Roger Maris's home run record. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Luther Mills