THE LOW ROAD - Chris Womersley
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.
A young petty criminal, Lee, wakes in a seedy motel with a bullet in his side and a suitcase of stolen money, his memory hazy as to how he got there. Soon he meets Wild, a doctor who is escaping his own disastrous life, and the two men set out for the safety of the countryside.
As they flee the city, they develop an uneasy intimacy, inevitably revisiting their pasts even as they desperately seek to evade them. But Lee and Wilde are not alone: they are pursued through an increasingly alien and gothic landscape by the ageing gangster Josef, who must retrieve the stolen money and deal with Lee to ensure his own survival. Ultimately, all three men are forced to confront the parts of themselves they sought to outrun.
Part dark thriller, part modern tale of alienation and despair, The Low Road seduces the reader into a story that unfolds and deepens hypnotically. This is a brilliant debut novel.