by Brad Spencer
A VIANVI PODCAST BOOK REVIEW
2017 – #1
The world Brad Spencer explores in PEACE ROAD is an ugly one, and anything but peaceful. Just like Spencer’s first grippy book, THE UPSHOT, this fictional story is realistic. And whether the reader likes it or not, PEACE ROAD very much reflects some of the worst aspects of city life in America today.
Set in the parts of Chicago tourists wouldn’t want to visit, PEACE ROAD starts with a bang. In fact, lots of bangs as a beautiful cop, Lyndi Carnes, backed only by one other cop, David Flisk, and a crusty old-timer, Jebediah Hatch, moves in for the kill on a sadistic, murdering, white supremacist convict, Leroy Crump. As shots are fired from both sides and blood is spilled, the reader is caught up in a barrage of bullets that will pepper chapter after chapter of PEACE ROAD.
There are a lot of people in this novel, but apart from a handful, most are essential only for furthering the plot through its series of headline making stories. These are the stories that dominate newspapers, internet and the daily evening TV news in the real world: gang wars and drug cartel shootouts; police struggling to keep up with the carnage; and just as has been happening most recently throughout the US, the increasing number of race-related deaths of both innocent civilians and law enforcement officers. Before the story begins, the author supplies a page of disturbing statistics that give credence to what readers will encounter in the novel.
Brad Spencer skilfully gives us a birds-eye view of the causes and effects of these all too frequent events and the people behind them. He captures the horror and devastating futility of all this bloodshed. There is a copious amount of that bloodshed in PEACE ROAD, along with super foul language throughout most of this novel. Readers who haven’t lived in the ghettos and back alleys of city streets, will find themselves repulsed, even disgusted with the author’s decision to use of this coarse diction. But if you’re going to write a novel set in such a criminally infested landscape, it would be totally unrealistic to have the characters speak any other way. Such usage is essential to the authenticity and credibility of PEACE ROAD.
To give readers a chance to catch their breaths, Brad Spencer relieves the tension through two central characters: the aforementioned Lyndi Carnes and the man who loves her, public defendant, Harry West. While their relationship is very much physical, Harry wants it to be so much more, but is hesitant to tell Lyndi of his love for her. By the time he does, it’s too late. Lest it spoil readers’ enjoyment of the book, the reasons for it being too late will not be disclosed in this review. Suffice to say readers will be touched by their relationship, and especially by the character of Harry West himself.
There are many currents and elements to PEACE ROAD that make it an absorbing, page-turning read. There is also an issue that some readers may have difficulty with, namely Spencer’s style of slipping into, out of and around places, people and events, and in the case of Harry West, even the narrator’s voice. However, chapters are short, which makes for easy, quick reading, and once readers cotton on to what Spencer is doing, it’s not that hard to follow. By the time readers reach the end of PEACE ROAD, which cleverly takes us back to where the whole story started, they close the novel with that satisfied smile that comes from having had a good read, despite the roller coaster ride of events and emotions they have experienced.
PEACE ROAD is a second great novel from a writer who knows what fiction readers want when they pick up a book: knowledge and entertainment. Brad Spencer gives them plenty of both.
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