This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash 2014, William Morrow 230 pages
When their mother dies, twelve year old Easter Quillby and her six year old sister, Ruby, are placed in foster care in Gastonia, NC while the courts determine their fate.
Their father, ex-minor league baseball player Wade Chesterfield, signed away his parental rights and vanished from the girls’ life long before their mother died. When he reappears suddenly, Ruby embraces his return wholeheartedly, but Easter is suspicious.
Wade claims that he just wants a second chance with his daughters. When he approaches their foster mother about reestablishing contact with his girls, he learns that their maternal grandparents in Alaska are working to adopt Easter and Ruby. Realizing that there is no legal way for him to get that second chance, Wade steals his daughters from their foster home and flees the county.
Brady Weller is Easter and Ruby’s court-appointed guardian. When the girls are taken, the ex-cop launches his own investigation into their disappearance and uncovers some very troubling facts. Wade seems to be connected to the disappearance of a sizeable chunk of money taken in an armored car heist, and there are some very unsavory characters following his trail in an effort to recover what was taken.
Hired muscle, Robert Pruitt, is determined to find Wade, but for him, it’s not just about the money. Pruitt is nursing a grudge against Chesterfield with roots in their shared disgraced minor league baseball careers. He is driven by a need to confront Wade and extract his pound of flesh in a very literal sense.
Wade and his daughters embark on a road trip that takes them from Gastonia to Myrtle Beach and Charleston, and finally to St. Louis, where the three men’s paths finally converge at the Cardinals-Cubs game.
This Dark Road to Mercy is a gripping page-turner. Author Wiley Cash expertly builds the suspense, revealing just enough information to keep his readers on the hook.
The story takes place during the late summer of 1998, when baseball fans everywhere were riveted by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run record chase. Cash masterfully juxtaposes the major league baseball drama against Chesterfield’s struggle to hold on to his daughters and outrun the men pursuing him.
Cash uses shifting points of view to tell his story, moving seamlessly from Easter’s voice to Brady’s and Pruitt’s. He gives readers glimpses into the hearts of his main characters, helping us to better understand what makes the three men tick.
This Dark Road to Mercy is much more than just a story of suspense. It is a beautifully written story of second chances. Both Brady and Wade are broken men, seeking to atone for past wrongs and to redeem themselves in their daughters’ eyes. They aren’t perfect by any means, but both men want desperately to be better than they are. In the end, the measure of both men’s characters is revealed in their choices.
I couldn’t put this one down! Do yourself a favor and add this one to your reading list today!
Heather Holley-Hall is Alamance County Public Libraries’ Head of Branch Services. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or 336-570-6730.