This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

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This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

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Buy This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: Failed baseball star Wade Chesterfield turns up to reclaim his daughters after their mother's death, but there's a history of crime and criminals on his tail. A well-crafted tale that will entertain, but not without its flaws.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 230 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780857522238

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Easter Quilby is twelve years old. She and her sister Ruth are in a children's home. Not so long ago they woke up to find their mother slouched across the bed, dead. Drink and drugs and a hard, sad life had finally got to her, or maybe her body just gave up on it. Their father, Wade Chesterfield, sometime baseball star, had lit out on them three years earlier.

They're actually not doing too badly at the home. They have a room to share. They're in school, and playing baseball out of it. Easter might even have a boyfriend. She's not sure, but Marcus sneaks out to see her most nights, even if all they really do is sit around and talk about stuff.

There's talk of them going to Alaska to stay with grandparents that they don't really know. They'd rather stay where they are. At least here they have friends, even if they don't have a mom or a dad.

Only, it seems Wade Chesterfield suddenly wants to fix that last bit. Once he knew Corinne was dead, he figured that the paper he signed waiving all parental rights might suddenly be up for renegotiation, and so he turns up first at the girls' school and then at the home without much of a plan, but certain he wants his daughters back.

Bobby Pruitt was taught baseball by a mean-spirited father who didn't exactly coax it into him. His career got wasted and he spent time in jail. Now he's out and working the door of a deadbeat nightclub for a low-level criminal. He's a hard man, who doesn't wear his sunglasses as a style statement. When his boss suggests he wants Wade Chesterfield finding, Pruitt sees a chance to make some serious money doing something he so badly wants to do anyway. Talking to Wade isn't quite what he has in mind.

Quite possibly the only person standing between Pruitt and the Quilby girls is Brady Weller. Weller used to be a cop, until an accident in which he wasn't entirely blameless killed a child and got him thrown out of the force; an accident that cost him more than his career. Fortunately for him, a local judge kicked some sense into him (a modicum anyway) and got him involved with the guardian ad litem programme. To that extent, the Easter and Ruby are his girls. He's appointed by the court to speak up for them, but he's also made friends of them and they trust him. When the girls go missing and the local police are more tied up trying to trace the crooks and/or the money from a recent armoured security van heist, it's Weller calling in favours and calling on his talent as a detective that sets out after them.

We get to follow the trail through the eyes of Easter, Pruitt and Weller. As a device the differing viewpoints works well-enough, but the voices aren't really distinctive enough. I missed the first switch (Easter to Pruitt) entirely, despite the chapter heading, and it was only when the incongruity got too great to rationalise that I had to back-track and figure out what was going on. It takes some doing to make a 12-year-old girl sound like a hardened ex-con, or vice versa.

Accepting that, and once you've figure out that you're listening to several different people and remember to keep an eye on who it is, what remains is a sound enough read, albeit an uncomplicated one. There are a limited number of plausible outcomes and it is bound to be one or other of them. Cash doesn't play it for twists and turns. It's a straightforward chase tale, spiced mainly by Easter's conflicted view of her father. Ruth is younger and more easily swayed. Easter's emotions ricochet back and forth as she tries to understand her father's motives and what might or might not be best for her and the little sister she now feels is entirely her responsibility.

A good entertaining read, but not one to set the world on fire.

If you like Cash's style check out his CWA Best Debut Crime Award winning first book A Land More Kind Than Home

Buy This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash at Amazon.co.uk


Buy This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash at Amazon.com.

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