Book of the Week: This Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash

Given that this newsletter is designed for Indie booksellers, the top choice this week is a slam dunk. Indie booksellers led the buzz that turned Cash’s debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, into a bestseller. Like that first book, this sophomore effort is also an Indie Next Pick; and Southern booksellers have embraced it as a Winter “Okra” pick.

Fans of Cash’s first book will enjoy a return to similar themes and techniques: a suspenseful story driven in part by narration from multiple points of view, a beautifully drawn world, and wise children negotiating their way among flawed adults. No Southern Gothic this time out–instead the setting is the 1990’s at the periphery of the baseball world. In terms of tone, I like the way Jess Walter describes the book – “Harper Lee by way of Elmore Leonard.”

I’m expecting good media. There’s already a starred review in Library Journal that concludes, “[T]his book captures the reader’s attention from the start and never lets go.” On sale review commitments include Washington Post and O Magazine. If all the feedback I’ve gotten from booksellers is any measure, Wiley has an army of Indies ready to handsell this one. Here are a couple comments:

A strong follow up to his debut! And while the format is the same, the story is far from snake-handling preachers. This Dark Road to Mercy is about family–the bits we know and the pieces that we don’t know. And our desire to be safe within one, regardless of what our instincts tell us. Yes, there is baseball, and doping in baseball, and death, and divorce, and some more death. But when Easter grabs your attention in the first couple of pages, you just want to go on this trip with her. And you want to know why you weren’t as strong as her when you were 12. Set against McGwire’s and Sosa’s race to the home run record, This Dark Road to Mercy is a beautiful character driven mystery. “
— April Gosling, Boulder Book Store

“When their mother dies of a drug overdose, sisters Easter and Ruby (12 and 6) are sent to live in a home for orphans. Their father, who had previously signed away his rights as parent, now wants to take care of them. After stumbling upon a big stash of cash, he kidnaps them.  The story is told in turns by three narrators: Easter; the girls’ guardian, a former cop struggling with his own demons; and a hit man more interested in settling an old account with the girls’ father than in retrieving the stolen money.  The novel is especially convincing in Easter’s voice. She is wary of her father, protective of her little sister but always holding on to the hope that the three of them can become a family. Wiley Cash is an author who deserves to be read.”
–Pierre Camy, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI

Here’s a snippet of an interview with Wiley about this book:

This Dark Road to Mercy (9780062088253) by Wiley Cash. $25.99 hardcover. 1/28/14 on sale. 

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