Reviews > Published on January 28th, 2014

Bookshots: 'This Dark Road To Mercy' by Wiley Cash

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


This Dark Road to Mercy

Who Wrote It?

When Easter speaks, 'This Dark Road To Mercy' is something truly exceptional. Her chapters read like a Joe Lansdale mystery told by a teenage girl.

Wiley Cash, author of New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home.

Plot in a Box:

Two young sisters are "rescued" from foster care by their deadbeat ex-ballplayer junkie dad and taken on a cross-country road trip to see McGuire and Sosa's epic battle to become baseball legends, but they are followed by men their father would rather avoid, probably because of  the big duffel bag full of money he nervously totes around but never wants to talk about.

Invent a New Title For This Book:

One Last At Bat

Read This If You Like:

To Kill a Mockingbird, or if you wish Judy Blume had written Southern crime fiction.

Meet the Book's Lead:

Easter, the oldest of the girls, determined to protect her little  sister from their worse than useless father. Although she is resolute in her disdain for the man, she still can't  help wanting to get to know him better.

Said Lead Would be Portrayed in a Movie By:

Chloe Grace Moretz a few years ago, a young actress who excels at playing precocious kids who are smarter than their adult tormentors.

Setting: Would You Want To Live There?

Easter and her little sister Ruby see the country between North Carolina and Missouri through the windows of car and countless crappy motels, all while being pursued by both the law and a murderous madman. It's not an ideal summer vacation.

What Was  Your  Favorite Sentence?

So that's what me and Ruby started calling ourselves; I was Boston Terrier and she was Purple Journey. Boston Terrier: I'll admit  it sounds silly when you first hear it, but if you split it up into a first name and a last name I think it sounds kind of pretty—fancy and a little bit dangerous, like the name of a woman in an action movie the hero can't quite trust but falls in love with anyway.

The Verdict:

The plot is a lot like No Country For Old Men, if Llewelyn Moss had been accompanied by his two young daughters as he fled cartel hitmen and the law, all the while trying to keep the girls convinced it was all just a fun family road trip with Dad. The story is mostly told by Easter Quillby, the oldest girl, who is easily the stand-out character of the book. Her sections are the most enjoyable parts of the story, so much so that you will start to find yourself becoming irritated when the narrative shifts to the other two POVs: the girls’ government appointed guardian and the vengeful hitman chasing their father. They are both perfectly functional, serviceable support characters for a crime caper, but neither manages to be more than a distraction filling pages between Easter's chapters. Her voice is the most interesting, her perspective the most unique, and her story the most compelling. When Easter speaks, This Dark Road To Mercy is something truly exceptional. Her chapters read like a Joe Lansdale mystery told by a teenage girl. Easter is smart enough to know when the adults are lying to her, but not yet old enough to do anything about it. It’s rare for a crime drama to make its most helpless character the primary point of view—even Chandler’s most luckless private eye can still go down shooting—but this intriguing twist on perspective is undercut every time the camera shifts back to one of the grown-ups. In these chapters the reader is drip-fed a bunch of information and backstory through the more easily digestible adult perspectives. That’s not to say they are in any way poorly written, it’s just that the adults’ chapters ruin all the fun of trying to puzzle out the mystery with Easter’s limited resources and access to information. That being said, Easter’s short time in the spotlight makes This Dark Road To Mercy a worthwhile read.

About the author

BH Shepherd is a writer and a DJ from Texas. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2005 with degrees in English and Demonology after writing a thesis about Doctor Doom. A hardcore sci-fi geek, noir junkie and comic book prophet, BH Shepherd has spent a lot of time studying things that don’t exist.  He currently resides in Austin, where he is working on The Greatest Novel Ever.

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