This Road to Dark Mercy: A Novel by Wiley Cash

This Dark Road to Mercy

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

As This Dark Road to Mercy opens, readers are introduced to twelve year old Easter as she tells readers what life was like before her father left three years earlier and what has become of her mother and younger sister Ruby since. It is a sad story told matter of factly as this is the life Easter and Ruby lead. We learn through Easter that her father, Wade Chesterfield, was a minor league baseball player who might have had potential if he had not made some poor choices that took him away from his family. Now, three years later, their mother dead and the girls in foster care, their father reappears in their life. Sneaking into their bedroom one night, he kidnaps the girls and their life on the run begins. The police are only half interested in finding the girls, but their guardian ad litem is looking and so is a hit man who wants back what the father stole. Easter shares the narration with Robert Pruitt, a former teammate of the girls’ father who holds as personal grudge against him, and Brady Weller, a former cop who serves as the girls’ guardian ad litem.

The book is set against the 1998 baseball season which was the year that Sammy Sosa and Mark MacGwire were vying to break Roger Maris’s homerun record. Supposedly both Pruitt and Chesterfield played with Sosa in the minor leagues. This helps tie the various parts of the story together. Easter is very interested in the homer race and listens to as many games as she can. Pruitt bets on the homers of each player on various days and nearly everyone in the country is listening to the games so the scores, homers and pitching stats are sprinkled through the entire book.

Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy is a difficult book to categorize. It has the same feel to it as many literary fictional works depicting a time or place such as the works of Cormac McCarthy or Daniel Woodrell, but also smacks of the suspense of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It has the sad drama of a seriously dysfunctional family found in many women’s fiction but also tells the story primarily through the narration of a twelve year old girl giving the book a coming of age feel as well. However you wish to categorize This Dark Road to Mercy, it is sure to be a book that sticks with you for a very long time.

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