Monday, November 25, 2013

Review of The Low Road by Chris Womersley (Quercus, 2007)

After leaving prison, Lee is recruited by Josef into the criminal underworld.  Sent on a job to collect eight thousand dollars from a gambler, Lee is shot in the stomach.  He awakens in a grubby motel on the edge of the city.  The motel manager calls on Wild, a disgraced junkie doctor on the run to tend to the wound.  Wild reluctantly agrees but feels Lee needs the attention of a better physician.  Together they set off across country to visit Wild’s former mentor, taking with them a suitcase containing the gambler’s debt money.  Given Josef recruited Lee, he is responsible for debt is paid to his boss and he sets off in pursuit.

The Low Road is a bleak, dark, literary noir tale.  It is somewhat of a curious story as it feels both timeless and placeless: it could be set anywhere from the mid-1930s through to the 1990s and in any reasonable sized city with a large rural hinterland.  The story is all about the three main characters, especially Lee, a young petty criminal, and Wild, a doctor addicted to morphine, and their journey to try and escape their past and their developing, uneasy friendship.  It is not a cheery plot, but it well crafted and paced, told through stark and engaging prose.  Overall, this is not a story that will inspire hope and joy, but is an evocative and engaging tale that has the feel of a stage play with its small cast and handful of settings.


1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks, Rob. A fine review as ever although I think I'll wait on this for when I'm ready for a darker story...