THE LOW ROAD
Chris Womersley

 


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Scribe Publications. This edition published Sep 2007
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Lee wakes up in pain in a sleazy motel. He's been shot in the stomach. Also staying at the motel is Wild. Wild is (or rather was) a doctor. He's been struck off for substance abuse. Wild is addicted to morphine and repeated attempts to help him have failed to the point where he is now alone in the world and on the run from the law due to an obstetric delivery gone horribly wrong while he was high.

Lee has in his possession a suitcase full of money. A job he was asked to do by Josef. That is why he has a stomach wound. He is holed up in the motel with no intention of giving Josef the money. This means that Josef is after him. The motel manager doesn't want dead bodies to deal with so she persuades Wild to try and help Lee. After all, Wild does have a suitcase full of morphine.

Wild doesn't feel up to the job of removing the bullet from Lee's gut. He remembers his friend Sherman, a retired doctor who helped him in the past. If they can get to Sherman, things will be all right. The pair go on the run and form a relationship of sorts. You can't call it friendship. It's out of mutual need. Lee needs Wild's help to stay alive and Wild needs Lee because Lee has money and with any luck Wild will be the beneficiary of some of it.

THE LOW ROAD is an austere portrait of two of life's losers. Lee has never really had a chance. He lost his parents suddenly at the age of ten. Wild, on the other hand, was successful and threw it all away. Lee is incapacitated through his gunshot wound. Wild is so hopelessly addicted that he is almost incapable of any decision making outside of getting his next fix.

Reading THE LOW ROAD isn't easy. In fact, there were moments in the book when I nearly put it down completely. It offers the reader no comfort at all. Like the winter landscape Womersley describes, it is cold and bleak. However, there is something there that keeps you reading. Perhaps it is the vivid descriptions. Maybe it is the characters. Surely they can't sink any lower? Can they? Whatever it is, THE LOW ROAD will stay with you after you've finished reading the book, that's for sure.

Nov 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem

 

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