Monday, 9 December 2019

Redemption Road

Finished December 5
Redemption Road by John Hart, Read by Scott Shepherd

This is a haunting book, one with a lot of characters struggling to survive against long odds. The woman at the center of the story is Liz Black, a police officer who has just come through a terrifying ordeal. She was the first officer on the scene of a teenager who was being held in an abandoned building, tortured, and raped. The men holding the teen were shot multiple times and Liz is up on charges for excessive use of force, and suspended during the investigation. She's started smoking again, and isn't eating or sleeping properly. She won't talk to anyone about it, and you understand that she and the teen girl are hiding what really happened at the scene. Liz also carries baggage from her youth, when she was raped by a young man she'd considered to be a friend up until then and then felt that her parents didn't properly support her following the rape. She blames her father, a preacher, more than her mother, but that incident has shaped her life in many ways you only gradually begin to understand. One of those ways is a strong feeling of trust in a police officer, Adrian Wall. Adrian was found guilty of killing a woman, a woman that Liz found dead on the altar of her father's church. She tried to look at other scenarios for the crime, but her superior officers shut her down and blocked her efforts. She took the young child of the woman who died, Gideon, under her wing, and was there for him when his father repeatedly wasn't.
Gideon feels that he has to do something to revenge his mother's death, and it is his actions that lead to his being injured and nearly dying.
Adrian is being released from prison, but his time that has changed him in many ways. The extent of what happened to him in prison is only revealed gradually, but you know that he was ill-treated by some of the guards from near the beginning of this novel. Adrian struggles with the loss of his life before prison, of the loss of people that he loved, of the land that had been in his family for generations, and of the way almost everyone he knew turned their backs on him, when he wasn't guilty.
Channing Shore, the teen who Liz found in the derelict house is also haunted by what happened there, and what led to it. Liz is the only person she can talk to, and the only one who makes her feel that she can find a future. As we gradually learn the truth about what happened, we understand her struggle and as we watch her deal with even more, we fight for her to survive.
We see the actions of the serial killer, the man whose serious crimes began with the ritualized murder of the woman that Adrian was convicted of killing, and who is choosing his most recent victim as the book opens. The terror of his victims is palpable and his actions have meaning that the reader doesn't understand until much later.
There are other interesting characters in the book as well: the retired Southern lawyer known as Crybaby Jones, the rough cop who gives Liz a chance with information the brass don't want to give her. There are those who are evil, who don't care about anybody, who don't seem human. Liz's empathy stands out even more juxtaposed against them.
A winner

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