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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

This Dark Road to Mercy

ISBN-13: 9780062088253

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 1/28/2014

Format: Audio

My Rating: 5 Stars

Wiley Cash's debut, hailed as "mesmerizing" (New York Times Book Review) and "as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite To Kill a Mockingbird" (Richmond Times-Dispatch), made him a literary sensation. His new novel is a tale of love and atonement, a story of two sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay.

When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and six-year-old Ruby are shuffled into foster care. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, reappears and steals the girls away.

Now two men are on their trail but for very different reasons—one, a former detective and the girls' court-appointed guardian, who has linked Wade to a multi-million dollar robbery and the other, a mercurial, angry man who is determined to claim his due. Narrated in alternating voices that are at once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a soulful story about the ­emotional pull of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

My Review

THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY was captivating------a thrilling page-turner, and southern family drama----full of suspense and written from the heart (movie worthy). I highly recommend the audiobook --a stellar performance! Each voice resonating the true south, coinciding perfectly with the richly developed characters.

If you are a NC native, you will relate to every part of this suspenseful novel, from the dialect, descriptions, setting, the people, and the places—so authentic.

The audiobook, narrated by: Jenna Lamia, Erik Bergmann, and Scott Sowers---the author could not have chosen three more perfect performers. Jenna Lamia's remarkable performance was ideal for Easter, with her southern NC accent; Erik Bergman's slow, gentle voice was a perfect match for Brady's kindness and background; while Scott Sowers makes listeners quiver with his rendering of Pruitt, a sociopathic hit man.

What I absolutely loved about THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, was the inspiration behind this novel---I would encourage all readers to view Wiley Cash’s website. The special meaning behind this original and powerful story, and how it was conceived--- sealing the deal for me as a reader. To connect not only with the words of the book, the voices, but the personal connection with the author and his vision.

Wiley Cash, author shared this story, so eloquently through the pages of this striking yet powerful story of the heart. As he mentions, THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY was inspired by both beauty and tragedy, innocence and evil, and these conflicting elements drive the novel---a story of mercy.

Easter, the main character--- and one which readers will sympathize with and adore---twelve years old (her poor environment has made her wise and street smart beyond her years), loves baseball and takes care of her younger little sister, Ruby. She takes everything in stride and never complains.

The novel is set in a small town of Gastonia, NC, in the late summer of 1998, with baseball being an occurring theme—with relation to the home run race between Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa --a nice tie in.

Easter and Ruby, two young sisters are in foster care through social services, and awaiting a more permanent home. (Grandparents live in Canada). Their mother died of an overdose, and their father (Wade), a former minor league baseball player who never made it to the big leagues, a drifter and one who likes to make an easy buck—left them years ago, relinquishing his custody rights.

Now their dad, Wade is back in town after stealing some money while on a construction job. He takes the girls in the middle of the night, and sets off on a road trip with both girls in toe, headed to Myrtle Beach, SC (this is so a NC thing), and to Charleston, SC where his elderly mom lives.

What makes this interesting is another critical character, with a past of his own--- Brady, (you will love). A court appointed guardian for Wade's two daughters, an ex-cop with a career ending due to tragic accident.

Brady suspects Wade has stolen the money, linking him to a multi million dollar robbery belonging to a criminal. He figures Wade has the girls when they disappear from their social services placement.

Brady knows the cops will not be able to solve the case fast enough, and he is more concerned about the man hunting down Wade and the girls (as he knows Wade loves his daughters, yet not too smart), however, he has to protect the girls--- he sets off to track them down before the hit man Pruitt finds them.

Pruitt, a ruthless killer--- another former baseball player, recently being released from prison. Pruitt has an extreme hatred of Wade who accidentally injured him and ended his professional ball career, years ago. When Wade steals a large amount of money from another guy, Pruitt is happy to be hired to track Wade down both for the paycheck and a chance to get revenge—he wants him to pay for his sins.

The suspense and tension builds with the chase. Hot on the father's trail are two very different men: a violent bounty hunter with a vendetta and an ex-cop ---a protector of the girls and court-appointed guardian.

Easter is one smart cookie, independent, intuitive, and thinks quickly--usually one step ahead of her dad Wade. The perspectives in the story alternate between Easter, Brady, and Pruitt with the focus being the father, Wade---his past begins to unravel through the novel, who really may have a heart by the end.

A story of emotional loss, mercy, compassion and redemption. Cash mixes love, grace, and sympathy with a thriller suspense novel, making for a must read southern hit. A book of forgiveness and kindness, and characters which will tug at your heart strings. This Dark Road reinforces the bonds of family and a desire to outrun a past, which resurfaces.

This is the second novel of Wiley Cash (I have since read A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME - a great debut). This is a true southern author, you will want to follow, as envision many more bestsellers to follow! I for one, look forward to the journey-- from this master storyteller which captivated me from the stunning front cover, hooked me within the first five minutes, and held me to the very end--in one day.

Fans of Nicholas Sparks (NC), and Charles Martin(Jacksonville, FL) will love Wiley Cash---even though each have their own genre and unique style. They share warm personalities, humanitarians, love of family, and community----their writing talents are reflective through their inspiring writing, and settings within the south.

In addition, fans of Deborah Johnson, Carla Buckley, and T. Greenwood will enjoy reading THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY.

As a North Carolina native, myself--- (currently residing in West Palm Beach, FL, and having spent years in Atlanta, GA); however, have not forgotten my North Carolina roots. With family remaining in NC in Piedmont area near the setting of this book, am very proud to have discovered this dynamic southern writer.

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About the Author

Wiley Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. He’s been a fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and he teaches fiction writing and literature at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, where he serves as Alumni Author-in-Residence. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, will be available September 21. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, and their daughters.

photo by Mallory Cash

Published in October 2017, Cash’s novel The Last Ballad was an American Library Association Book of the Year and a Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017. The novel received the Southern Book Prize, the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, the Weatherford Award, and the Bloodroot Mountain Prize. His second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, was a national bestseller and received the Crime Writers Association’s Novel of the Year in the United Kingdom. It was a finalist for both the Edgar Award for Best Novel and the Southern Book Prize. Cash’s debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, won the Thomas Wolfe Book Prize, the Maine Reader’s Choice Award, the Southern Book Prize, the Crook’s Corner Book Prize, the Appalachian Writers Association’s Book of the Year, the Crime Writers Association’s Debut of the Year in the UK. The novel was a finalist for the American Bookseller Association’s Debut of the Year and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Cash has received the Pat Conroy Legacy Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Alliance, the Mary Frances Hobson Prize from Chowan University, and the Appalachian Heritage Prize from Shepherd University.

Cash’s short stories and essays have appeared in The Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Our State Magazine, and other publications, and his fiction has been adapted for the stage and film. He has taught creative writing and literature at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Bethany College, the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from UL-Lafayette, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a B.A. in Literature from UNC-Asheville. Website






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