Title: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Publisher: William Morrow
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
The critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home—hailed as “a powerfully moving debut that reads as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” (Richmond Times Dispatch)—returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, set in western North Carolina, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.
After their mother’s unexpected death, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are adjusting to life in foster care when their errant father, Wade, suddenly appears. Since Wade signed away his legal rights, the only way he can get his daughters back is to steal them away in the night.
Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn’t the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.
Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.
Wiley Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy is an intriguing and suspenseful novel about a desperate father who kidnaps his daughters and finds himself on the run when a person from his past seizes the opportunity to exact his revenge.
Set in 1998, readers are whisked back in time to Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire’s heated battle to break Robert Maris’s homerun record. As the drama between Sosa/McGuire plays out, ex-minor league ballplayer Wade Chesterfield kidnaps the daughters he abandoned years earlier. Twelve year old Easter and her sister Ruby are living in a foster home following the death of their mother and while at first, Easter wants nothing to do with her wayward father, she willingly leaves with him. Their guardian ad litem, Brady Weller, an ex-cop who can never atone for a tragic accident, and Robert Pruitt, a vengeful psychopath from Wade’s ball playing days, are soon in pursuit of Wade and the missing girls.
This Dark Road to Mercy unfolds from three of the characters’ perspectives. The most compelling and sympathetic voice is that of twelve year old Easter. Easter grew up way too fast and she is wise beyond her years. She is very protective of Ruby and with clear memories of Wade’s neglect, she is suspicious of his reappearance in their lives. She struggles to maintain an emotional distance but she is still a little girl whose mixed feelings for her dad slowly evolve over the course of their travels.
Brady’s point of view is just as riveting. His concern for the girls is genuine and when he realizes the kidnapping is not a high priority for the police, he begins his own investigation. He uncovers important evidence that links Wade to the missing money from the armored car robbery and the trail eventually leads to some very unsavory individuals.
Robert Pruitt is motivated by more than greed to find Wade. He has a score to settle and he is ruthless in his attempts to track him down. He is merciless and methodical in his quest for information and the suspense builds as he closes in on his quarry.
My feelings for Easter, Ruby, Brady and Pruitt stayed pretty much the same throughout the novel. But Wade? I went back and forth between feeling sorry for him and wanting to shake some sense into him. He truly loves his daughters and he really does want to be a father to them. But Wade is immature and selfish and his impetuous decisions demonstrate his lack of common sense. He has a good heart, but does that mean he is should regain custody of his daughters?
This Dark Road to Mercy is a dramatic and engrossing novel with a cast of characters that invoke a wide range of emotions. The setting is perfect for the story and Wiley Cash once again paints a vibrant and gritty portrait of life in the south. It is a wonderful story of redemption with an ending that is as surprising as it is satisfying.