‘Redemption Road’ by John Hart – A darkly satisfying, sometimes disturbing and yet compelling read

I would like to thank Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of ‘Redemption Road’ by John Hart in exchange for my review.

How to begin? I have deliberately taken a few days to think about this before starting my review as I wanted to really absorb all that I have read. ‘Redemption Road’ is a multi-faceted piece, so many seemingly different stories interwoven and drawn into one dramatic and deeply emotional story. A young woman, new in town, sucked into a potentially deadly situation by her own trusting nature and naivety; a boy intent on revenge for a sin committed against his family years ago; a disgraced cop now ex con, his body broken from years of torture and a young girl and a troubled cop who share a dark and traumatic secret that looks set to ruin the career she fought hard to build. Their lives and their fortunes are so inextricably linked, and unbeknownst to them, their fates are to be determined by a vicious killer who has their own plans for more than one of our broken protagonists.

There are some very dark themes in this novel, murder, rape and torture. The scenes are not necessarily gratuitous in content or description but should perhaps be read with caution if you are sensitive to this type of thing. That said, the writing in this is wonderfully crafted that it makes it a nearly cinematic experience. The characterisations are so strong it is quite easy to picture every person as Hart describes them, easy to lose yourself in the emotions felt by them, the pain, both physical and emotional so jarringly clear, that it can be almost painful to read at times. The strength and determination of the characters is wholly believable and not contrived in anyway, and there are just enough twists and ample misdirection to keep you unsure nearly right up to the end as to who the mysterious figure in the dirty old car might be.

This is a tough book to say that I enjoyed as the subject matter is quite disturbing in parts and yet it had me hooked from the very beginning. I could see quite quickly where the young woman’s journey would end and found myself so frustrated that someone could be so ignorant to what was in front of them. It became clear later in why she may have had such misguided trust in a person who could only accurately be described as a predator, but that is the simple beauty of this story. It is not simple at all. In fact it was hard to know quite who to trust, each and every character having their own share of secrets, perhaps Faircloth ‘Cry Baby’ Jones the only person to appear genuine and without ulterior motivation.

This is a darkly satisfying, sometimes disturbing read. The pacing is just right, the balance between drawing the reader in and eking the story out, fine but just about perfect. It is page turner in as much as I didn’t want to have to walk away, but I also wanted to savour the experience. An excellent novel, and a highly recommended 5 stars.

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