43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Having read "A Land More Kind Than Home" by Wiley Cash I anxiously chose his brand new offering, "This Dark Road to Mercy." I made a stellar choice. That southern grit, colloquial dialogue, acute descriptions, and flowing, purposeful plot is right here again in "The Dark Road to Mercy.
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. :-)
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY is a strikingly original and powerful novel that embraces suspense, emotional loss and the human need for love with sympathetic arms of mercy. What beautiful and compassionate insights grace this novel and yet how thrilling it is too, and even dangerous and frightening! Wiley Cash proves to be an author possessed of a generous wisdom and a humanitarian spirit of benevolence, forgiveness and kindness. Yet he is equally adept at portraying a vengeance and violence that can transform the heart into a cold, blackened ember.
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. Her supporting characters are three adult men which include Wade Chesterfield - the down on his luck, once promising baseball pitcher and errant father who has abandoned her and her six year old sister Ruby; Brady Weller - a former police detective who now serves as Easter and Ruby's legal guardian in the foster care program they are placed following the recent drug overdose death of their mother; and finally, representing the dark side, is Robert Pruitt - an ex-con, former ball player and now ruthless hitman with an ax to grind with Wade.
Cash's narrative method melts each narrative perspective into the next with such a nuanced fluidity that there are no abrupt transitions between them, ever. The reader perceives both the simplicity of a child's innocent perspective blended with that of the experienced adult and the result is remarkable... a Bildungsroman of sorts for both the child and the adult in terms of overcoming difficulties and mistakes and achieving emotional maturity and social acceptance.
THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY is a short novel that can be read quickly, so I will not provide a plot summary here. What I will say is THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY is a love story that is as much about the difficulties and compromises of love as about love's redemptive power.
I really love the title of this book, particularly the brilliantly chosen word of "mercy." The Latin root of the word means "price paid, wages" and that concept strikes me as very significant to the themes found in this intense and moving novel.
William Shakespeare wrote of mercy in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
and I think that's a sentiment that serves me well for finishing this review of one of my favorite, best new books I have read this year.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
This year, I spent Easter Sunday with Easter. Easter Quillby, that is, the 12-year old protagonist of Wiley Cash's novel, This Dark Road to Mercy.
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. Yet, I found Cash's style most reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor. You probably read her short story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find in school, but if you have a little extra time and are debating reading Cash's latest, take a scan through.
This isn't to suggest that this novel should rank amongst those mentioned above. However, it is to say that Easter's story plants itself firmly within that genre. Though the novel will likely not be remembered as one of the greats, I'd say it is pretty darn good. However, please note that this recommendation is coming from someone who relishes in darker tales and is not bothered by a little grit. Nevertheless, I found the read to be thoroughly enjoyable. Coming in at just under 250 pages, with a plot that moves quickly, this would make for a wonderful rainy afternoon read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is a heartfelt story about 2 children, living in terrible conditions with a drug addicted mother, who dies and leaves them homeless. They are put in an orphanage, together, in which they are given clothes, bedding, and food. The orphanage is a nice place, and they are cared for by the staff. One day, their father comes to try to claim them, but because he signed away his rights years ago, he isn't granted his wish. Desperation takes over, and he convinces them to leave with him, in the middle of the night. Neither girl trusts him, especially the oldest, Easter, who has been her younger sisters caretaker all of her life. Wade takes them on an adventure, and takes them places they never dreamed of going, like the ocean. But, all good things must come to an end, in a conclusion we can all see coming.
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I had a little trouble reconciling the hype about this book with the actual book. From the title to the quips comparing it to To Kill a Mockingbird by way of Elmore Leonard this book promises to be something very special.
I think that promise takes away a lot of the enjoyment from this book.
There are great characters. Easter, Wade, Brady and Pruitt are interesting characters. They have credible voices of their own even if I dislike jumping from one first person narrative to another constantly. I was particularly impressed that Wade stayed a real true person and didn't become a caricature of the slacker dad.
The pace of the story is fine. The novel is fairly short so you are always headed somewhere. But the end was a little dull. There was no big pay off just a few run ins at a baseball stadium.
It is a fine story. It isn't Carson Mc Cullers or Stienbeck. It isn't even Grisham. But if you can separate out what it is and what it puports to be, it is worth reading.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Twelve year old Easter and six year old Ruby are sisters, and essentially orphans after their mother dies of an overdose. Used to being the adult in the household, Easter phones in the death and carries on. The girls are placed in a foster situation, which is probably the safest most secure environment they have ever known. Along comes their long absent father Wade, former baseball wunderkind and all-around hapless guy, who wants them back. So he steals them, right out the window of their group home.
Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins to search for them. The urgency of his search ramps up when he realizes that Wade stumbled across a huge stash of stolen cash,. Now Robert Pruitt, a relentless remorseless bad guy (think James T. Hall villain here) is after him, to get the money back and take care of Wade and the girls in any way he sees fit.
The story is told by Easter, as well as by Pruitt (the remorseless bad guy) and Brady, (the guardian). Some have compared Easter's voice to that of Scout, in "To Kill a Mockingbird." She is, perhaps, the adult in the runaway trio.
Wade attempts to be the father he never was, Easter attempts to make sense of her world, which is making very little sense, and all three attempt to outrun a vicious killer and find a true home and family.
The book is suspenseful, with great character studies and some very well written scenes that will have you on the edge of your chair. Prepare to be creeped out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
I adored Land More Kind than Home. one of the best ever! this was a bit shallow and felt like a screenplay. I had to fill in a lot myself.
17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This Dark Road to Mercy has an interesting premise - a down on his luck former ball player who has never been present for his kids shows up to take them on after their mother dies in a drug overdose. The concept is strong, but the execution is a bit weak, because the author insists on a rapid pacing that is more in tune with a detective novel than a family coming together.
The problems unfold because the father (Wade) has stolen cash from a ruthless minor criminal who in turn robbed an armored car. The father takes the money and spirits his daughters away from a foster home, but doesn't seem to have any real plan about what to do next or where to go. He and his daughters manage to leave trails that are easy to follow.
The family is pursued by a former ballplayer (Pruitt) who hates the father, because the father accidentally beaned him in a baseball game. The blow to head leads to the loss of an eye and the end of a promising career. Pruitt desires revenge. When he hears that Wade has left with the girls and the money, he negotiates a deal to track them down, which proves easy to do since Wade is relatively clueless and both he and the girls leave clues as to what they'll do next.
The plot is promising but the execution is very weak. There's really no evidence that Pruitt will become such a psychopath as is suggested by the book, and Wade has no real plan once he takes his daughters. The climax of the book at the Cardinals baseball park in St. Louis is telegraphed and contrived.
On the whole an OK read that could have been better if the antagonists were more believable and the journey a bit more defined.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2014
This book was not bad. Cash is not the next coming of Carson McCullers or Flannery O'Connor, but he is a competent writer in the Southern Gothic tradition with a decent sense of rhythm and pace. Like Land More Kind Than Home, the device here is a narrative constructed from first-person dialogue from three or four different characters. All of the characters kind of sound like the same person (i.e. they all kind of sound like Wiley Cash), so in my opinion, at least, he is not entirely successful at presenting different voices/characters believably. I applaud Cash for exercising a little more restraint in this book than in Land More Kind with regard to bloody violence. He could have made this book more of a bloodbath at the end, but he held back, and I think the book is better as a result. There was suspense throughout the novel, which I enjoyed. I did, however, get the sense that Cash was writing this book with the notion that this would quickly be adapted into a screenplay after publication and turned into a blockbuster movie (which it might be--I haven't checked imdb yet). There was a sort of self-conscious cinematic quality to the narrative. Cash is a pretty smart writer, and maybe he's learned that if he wants big money, he needs to get the interest of Hollywood--I get the impression that that is what he's aiming for here, and I can't blame him. My one other criticism: there is this thug mercenary named Pruitt in the book, and he narrates a number of sections. A) I don't think it is at all believable that such a lowlife would have the time, talent, or inclination to record his thoughts regarding the events of the novel in reasonably eloquent narrative form and B) based on the way Pruitt's story ends (no spoilers), it is not at all believable that his narrative would get out and be seen which leaves the question: how are we getting (or from where are we getting) Pruitt's narrative? On a final note, the title of the book doesn't have any clear relation to what goes on in the book. The only way I could find "mercy" in the book was Wiley Cash's mercy in sparing some innocent characters who could have been murdered but weren't. I read the author's note on the book, and I still don't get the title.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As usual I received this book via the grand courtesy of the publisher through a Shelf Awareness giveaway. Despite that great kindness my candid opinions follow.
The summary of this one is a bit tough because it's so many things at once. It is, in equal parts, the story of children forced to grow up before their time, dark criminal suspense and sad story of parenthood failed. As if that's not enough, there's also a thread of baseball history and doping thrown in for good measure. The narrative is done in a panoramic style as we hear in first person from the oldest child, the hero and the villain in approximately equal parts.
On the positive side, the circumspect narrative style really gives the reader a detailed look at the situation from all sides. The story has a lot to say about fatherhood and whether that title is given by right or must be earned and delves into the complex situations of parenting in an intriguing way that's not often seen in such an otherwise gritty novel. The author's female characters are charming and evoke a great deal of pity from the reader and one inwardly roots for them as they make their way through the short span of time portrayed in the book. This one touches a lot of genres at once and never fails to keep the reader guessing.
To the negative, the narrative switches can sometimes be rather jarring and confusing. The first transition comes 35 pages in and I completely missed it and had to go back and reread a few pages to figure out why the eldest daughter was suddenly sitting in a bar. Once primed to expect it things settled down but this wasn't the best executed thing about the book. Also, the female characters were very lifelike but the villain seemed rather flat and we missed his back story. He and his heroic counterpart lacked "pop" and didn't quite pull the reader along behind them as the girls did. Lastly, on the topic of language, it's worth noting that the narrators tell the story in their own distinct southern vernacular and this is not limited to actual dialog. So those who are appalled by "ain't got no" and "ain't hardly no" should be steeled for the fact that these characters have uniquely southern voices.
In summary, a very diverse and well executed book with something for everyone. Fans of gritty crime suspense will find a bit of something to tantalize them; those looking for child-welfare drama will be well served and baseball fans can relive a bit of the late-90s doping drama.