Monday, 19 December 2016

Book Review: DESPERATION ROAD by Michael Farris Smith

Desperation Road

Title: Desperation Road
Author: Michael Farris Smith
Publisher: Oldcastle Books
Read: December 2016
Expected publication: 23 February 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

"An elegantly written, perfectly-paced novel about a man and woman indelibly marked by violence" (Ron Rash) set in a Mississippi town where drugs, whiskey, guns, and revenge explosively collide.

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sits in Parchman penitentiary. His sentence now up, Russell believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns home, he discovers that revenge lives and breathes all around him.

Meanwhile, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a room for the night, a night that ends with Maben holding a pistol and a dead deputy sprawled in the middle of the road.

With the dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save—his own or those of the woman and child.

My thoughts:

Desperation Road is a beautiful story about regret, redemption and second chances.

One mistake eleven years ago cost Russell Gaines everything he held dear – his freedom, the woman he loved and his place in the community. Just released from prison, he finds that he may have served his time and paid the price for his wrongdoings, but the past has left an ugly stain that will forever make him a marked man. At the same time, another lost soul comes back to the place she once called home. A young woman with a small child in tow, homeless and down on her luck, running from a terrible crime. When their paths intersect, Russell discovers that staying on the right side of the tracks may not be as easy as it seems, even for an innocent man. Unwillingly caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, he will have to make some difficult choices once again. Will paying an old debt ultimately jeopardise his own freedom?

Michael Farris Smith has a way with words that drew me in immediately and held me under its spell. Although the characters are flawed, and the world they inhibit is not a kind place, the general feeling of the story is hopeful and heart-warming, belying the constant undercurrent of danger, tension and pain. With astute characterisations and evocative writing, the author sets a vivid scene with real-to-life characters that will leave and impact long after the last page has been turned. Even the support cast march through the pages as life-like as your friends, your enemies, your family, your neighbours, each with a rich history to draw on, a life lived, choices made. I could hear the roar of the trucks as they whizzed past the truck stop on the interstate, and smell the damp earth near the lake where Russell  sits in his car amongst the buzz of small insects and the embers of a dying fire. Michael Farris Smith is that good that he captures a snippet of life in the time capsule of his novel, ready for the reader to breathe in its scent, hear its sounds. Reading it was like sitting in the middle of a snow globe with emotions swirling around me like small white dust, tugging at my heartstrings. A truly memorable and unputdownable book, highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Image result for 4.5 stars

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