Genre: Literature and Fiction, Thriller and Suspense, Action and Adventure
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Print Length: 377 pages
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Freedom Road–Depicts lonely flight
He’s taking a dangerous path in search of his missing granddaughter—the only part of his life worth saving.
Oliver Cross is fresh out of jail. His plans for the future are to live out his days in regret, back pain, and a bottle of Lone Star. But when he finds out his granddaughter, a wild child who reminds him of his late wife, has vanished—bless her hell-raising heart—Oliver jumps parole. With a sketchy teen and an abandoned dog, he hits the blacktop to find her.
On the road and on the run from a vengeful Russian drug dealer, Oliver finds himself on a trip across America and into his own past, fueled by fumes from a Ford F-250 and a reason to live. But from an exclusive club in Chicago to a seedy commune in the Rockies, a series of disastrous choices sends Oliver spiraling further from his goal and deeper into danger. It’s a journey that could all end in redemption or a hail of bullets. And either’s okay by him.
Perhaps Clint Eastwood is now too old to play the part of 72-year-old Oliver Cross, but he could have played the brooding, caustic, cantankerous man so believably that these pages would have quivered with the excitement. There were sooo many times I pictured him in this part, seeing Oliver as Clint has always been, the quintessential masculine hero who would triumph even at his own expense.
Oliver is a remnant of the ’68 Chicago Viet Nam anti-war demonstrations that have come to blows which actually introduces him to Helen, who will become the love of his life. Oliver is the product of a wealthy family, first-year law student, destined to become one of the good ole boys following in his father’s footsteps where the name Cross means wealth and power. But two things happen that will totally change the course of his life: He meets Helen and his brother, a soldier in ‘Nam dies a hero.
This is a tune in, turn on, drop out generation of the hippies and flower children of the west, the demonstrations and anti-war protests growing ever more violent. Booze, weed, free love, and Woodstock. And Freedom called to Oliver and his bride. So now fifty years later when he gets a call that his beautiful granddaughter, achingly alike his Helen, has tried the same route with a young and failing fledgling would-be musician. But unlike the trip out west that he and Helen took, his granddaughter, Erica, has unknowingly joined up with a loser who has managed to incite both a Russian drug dealer as well as the law.
This thriller envelopes the reader almost immediately in the crusty, bitter old man, estranged from his family. His wife is gone (with the help of his own hand), but he often sees her, speaks to her, and she speaks back ethereally, now forever free of cancer. At least the reader is allowed in the conversations if no one else. But he loves his granddaughter and agrees he’ll find her, confirm she is safe, and discovering the dog Frank abandoned when he fled with his granddaughter, takes him along for the ride, along with Ayana, tip line to Frank. It doesn’t take long to fall in love in Hunter, everyone else does, and whether or not Oliver is a responsible pet owner, sees to his needs.
The POV begins to flip between Oliver and Frank Cormack–whose fault for all his misadventures, his failures, are someone else’s. He really needs to escape, start a new life with Erica. Yes, that is all he needs. The dialogue and getting into the head of Frank is disturbing, scary. And the dialogue from Oliver is always curt, profane, short-tempered and ill-mannered.
It is on the road west with Ayana and Hunter where he is certain Erica has gone with Frank that he begins to reflect on his life and flashbacks that give us brutal insight to his character and his relationships, the losses suffered, choices made and regretted–or not. The support characters are well-developed and the interaction with protagonist Oliver slides in a sense of bittersweet humor. The author often repeats words or phrases, making a point. You understood and still enjoyed. The plot is so well drawn, it’s easy to be lead from chapter to chapter, or even back in time, hearing those protest folk songs, reflecting on the words. The scenes in Chicago so starkly outlined you can see and smell the mold of the crumbling bricks, the Colorado commune at the foot of the Rockies, cold, wild.
” You might as well send a blind man into the desert after a missing goat.”
“…a skirt the length of a credit card…”
“the phones rang, rang, the fluorescent lights buzzed, buzzed…”
“Mama’s boys are good. A B-minus is good. A Chicago dog is the pinnacle of Western culture.”
“…no road forward, no money, no money…”
“It was always the same, always the same, there was never enough and it was always the same.”
And my favorite:
“No one wants to do the right thing. They want to do the easy thing and be convinced it’s the right thing.”
So many more, the prose is there, and it’s not hidden. It’s poignant, in your face soul-stirring, emotional. Not really a crime novel, more of a family noir thriller? But definitely awesome literary fiction that resonates long after you’ve finished that somewhat disturbing and satisfying but surprising conclusion. Yes, there is some crude language–but again–this story is so well laid out, so compelling, the reader is fully invested, engaged from page 1 through “the end.”
I received an ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Heartily recommended. Trust me.
Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
The Author: William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.” The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER’S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS. He is also the author of BLOOD AND BONE, THE ACCOUNTING, and, most recently, THE BARKEEP, which was a Digital Book World Number One Bestselling Ebook.
Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia.
©2019 V Williams