Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wiley Cash's latest another riveting read

            Wiley Cash received his PhD from UL-Lafayette, heading out into the world to teach English at universities. When he penned his debut novel, “A Land More Kind Than Home,” Ernest Gaines stated, “I think this could be the beginning of a long, fruitful career.”
            Indeed. His second novel, “The Dark Road to Mercy,” has just been released, an impressive tale of the unending yearning for familial bonds coupled with the joy of baseball.
            Easter and Ruby Quilby have landed in foster care after their mother dies of an accidental overdose. Their father, a semi-pro baseball player named Wade Chesterfield, had previously given up custody so there is talk of grandparents in Alaska taking them in. Wade has not exactly been great father material, flitting in and out of the girls’ lives like a shadow.
            The book open as Wade appears at the girls’ baseball game, although Easter will have nothing to do with him. But his appearance and his insistence that he wants to take them in starts her thinking of what might be so that when Wade arrives late one night at the foster home, looking as if the devil is on his heels, the girls follow him.
            Unbeknownst to them, Robert Pruitt, a man holding a years-long grudge against Wade and working for a crime boss, has been hired to track him. Meanwhile, Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian with his own issues of fatherhood, hopes to rescue the girls, especially after learning that millions that have gone missing might be in the hands of Wade.
            The story is told from three viewpoints, that of young Easter, Weller and Pruitt, the first two examples of the desire of being part of a family when the past interferes and the hope that one can begin again. Meanwhile, Pruitt’s unyielding hold on the past threatens to destroy everything.
           Wiley Cash will sign copies of “This Dark Road to Mercy” at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Square Books in Oxford, Miss.; at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Turnrow Books of Greenwood, Miss.; at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans, Saturday at the St. Francisville Literary Festival in St. Francisville and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Lafayette Barnes & Noble.