Sunday, February 23, 2014
This Dark Road to Mercy
A few days later a determined Wade sneaks into the girl's room through a window and removes any option, telling the girls that they've got to go with him. Wade's sense of urgency and fear strikes a chord with Easter, who'd had an unfriendly visit from a menacing stranger, Pruitt, asking questions about Wade. In fact, Wade has good reason to run and hide since he's carrying around a duffel bag full of cash stolen from none other than Tommy Broughton, the Don Corleone of the local hillbilly Mafia. With the girls in tow and idyllic dreams of fatherhood, Wade takes off for Myrtle Beach unaware of the fact that he's being trailed by Pruitt, his old baseball foe whom he'd accidentally disfigured and ended his baseball career, and also Brady Weller, the girl's guardian ad litem, an ex-cop looking for a little redemption of his own. With baseball and the Sosa and McGwire home run record race as the backdrop, the thrilling chase is on and we the readers are taken along for the ride as we try to anticipate each next move in this dark cat and mouse chase.
I enjoyed this short novel (it really is a quick read) which drew me in more through its compelling characters than its storyline, which at times doesn't seem fully developed. The book alternates between three narrators - Easter, Pruitt and Brady, and each offers a captivating, unique and distinct voice though it's Easter that truly serves as both the tale's heroine and heart. Easter is feisty and brave and puts me in mind of some other great child characters which I've read, like Sally O'Malley from Lesley Kagen's Whistling in the Dark (though not as funny or witty) or Scout from To Kill a Mockinbird in her older than her age insights.
While you'd think it would be the more exciting aspects of the story that capture the readers imagination, like the chase or the villain, personally I felt they were the weakest links in the story; the chase is almost a none issue and the villain's actions given the reward and motivation seem entirely over the top. It's the more boring or staid (for lack of a better word) facets of the narrative dealing with character redemption and atonement that strike a deeper chord and seem more thoughtfully developed or defined. With Wade in particular, while he initially comes across like a thoughtless lout putting his girls in harm's way, by the end of the book you do feel like the character has shown growth and that it was genuine sentiment and love driving his actions as opposed to pure selfishness.
Overall, this was an entertaining read made so thanks to the memorable voice of its main character Easter, who offers a touching window into a child's heartbreak and hope when dealing with the fickle emotions and actions of a less than stellar parent. While This Dark Road to Mercy doesn't quite manage to pack a breath-stealing emotional punch, it does efficiently tug on your heartstrings.