This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel by Wiley Cash (Review #2)

This Dark Road to Mercy

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Wiley Cash has written a captivating and suspenseful story that not only demonstrates the need for forgiveness and reestablishment of trust in order to rebuild family relationships, but also the harmful effects a quest for vengeance can have on a person. The story is told from shifting points of view and flows along effortlessly with no abrupt transitions between viewpoints.

Baseball is an integral element in the plot. Key characters in the story are former baseball players, and the story takes place in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are in a race to beat the home run record set by Roger Maris in 1961. This competition is interwoven into the storyline.

This Dark Road to Mercy revolves around Easter Quillby, a twelve-year-old girl, who is struggling to forgive her irresponsible father for abandoning the family. Easter and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, have been living in an orphanage in Gastonia, North Carolina, ever since their mother died from a drug overdose.

Wade Chesterfield, the girls’ father, shows up at the orphanage to reclaim his children. Because Wade has terminated his parental rights, the staff refuses to allow him to have any contact with his daughters. However, Wade is determined to resume his fatherly duties and sneaks into the orphanage in the middle of the night to convince his daughters to disappear with him. Easter is not happy about running away with Wade, but Ruby is all for it, and Easter is unwilling to desert her sister.

The police suspect Wade of kidnapping his daughters and launch an investigation. Brady Weller, an ex-cop and court appointed guardian of the Quillby girls, conducts his own search for Wade and the two girls. The police aren’t too keen on having Brady involved in the search, since he wrecked his reputation as a reputable cop. He was forced to resign his detective position after his careless actions led to a tragic accident.

Hot on the trail of Wade and his daughters is Pruitt, a ruthless felon, who is trying to recover a substantial sum of money stolen by Wade from a local scoundrel. He is also dead set on getting revenge for what he considers a grievous injustice suffered at the hands of Wade. It becomes a race against time as to whether or not Wade and his daughters can be found before disaster strikes.

Readers will enjoy the supplemental material at the end of the book. About the Author is a humorous and insightful biography pertaining to Cash’s early years in Gastonia, North Carolina. About the Book is the inspiration for the subject matter of the story. It is based on childhood memories that are both loving and unsettling. Grenadine is a heart touching short story Cash began writing while he was a sophomore in college. The Reading Group Guide is an excellent instrument for sparking an in-depth discussion pertinent to social issues and personal choices in the novel.

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