Desperation Road – Michael Farris Smith
For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His time now up, and believing his debt paid, he returns home only to discover that revenge lives and breathes all around.
On the day of his release, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a motel room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the road in the glow of his own headlights.
With dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save – his own or that of the woman and child?
My thanks to Anne C for the opportunity to join the Desperation Road blog tour.
Russell Gaines is just out of prison. Having served his time he is making his way home – smalltown USA. We don’t immediately know what Russell has done, however, someone clearly has not forgotten his crime as on reaching town he is recognised and set upon by two men who beat him up.
Elsewhere a young woman is walking down a long stretch of interstate under the heat of a blazing sun. She has her daughter with her and the two are wilting in the heat. It is not clear where they have come from and they don’t seem to have a destination in mind but they are struggling and their desperation is apparent to the reader.
On eventually finding respite in a motel the mother spots an opportunity to earn some cash by providing comfort to truck drivers while her daughter sleeps – needs must. However, events take an unexpected turn and she falls foul of the police but a trip to the station is not what this officer has in mind!
Two troubled souls are going to come together and in Michael Farris Smith’s Desperation Road there is a feeling that not everyone is going to come through the story and find a happy ending waiting for them.
As is often the way of a story set in a small town, the dynamics of the characters and the relationships they forge are the driving force behind the tale and Desperation Road is no different. Russell is a really likeable character, we learn why he was imprisoned, how those around him had to adjust and we see him step back into the space he left – only to find that everything has changed and moved on without him. It is powerful reading at times and when his outlook was looking less than optimistic I was rooting for him to find a solution that would make his situation less bleak.
Desperation Road’s enjoyment is very much in the telling of the story. It is paced just about perfectly for a tale of small town USA. The story switches nicely between Russell and Maben (the mother of the young girl), their backstory is built up well and we find how their destiny will be inextricably linked. Very clever and entertainingly told.
Desperation Road is published by No Exit Press on 23 February 2017
You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Desperation-Road-compelling-literary-crime-ebook/dp/B01N52ILFQ/ref=sr_tnr_p_1_362920031_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487538873&sr=8-1&keywords=Desperation+Road++Michael+Farris+Smith