Follow Here To Purchase HOPE ROAD

Author: John Barlow

Publisher: Storm Books (2011) (e-book format)


John Barlow hits on all cylinders in his newest thriller, Hope Road. Mystery, espionage, love, loyalty, betrayal, and a host of other themes wend their way through this book in a fast-paced, complex story. But what really sets it apart is Barlow’s deft development of the central figure. This psychological study intertwined with the crime story plot makes for a different kind of novel.

The plot revolves around John Ray, the “prodigal son” of crime boss Tony Ray, who has returned home to run his dad’s used car business. He stepped in when his brother was murdered, in a case that was never solved, but the motive of which was attributed to the same kind of seamy lifestyle of his father. Everybody thinks that John Ray has always been different—the golden boy, smart enough to get away, to shun a life of crime. John Ray himself shows the reader how different he really is.

But the past is hard to escape, and family ties leave a shadow of doubt. Freddy, one of John’s employees, is arrested for murdering a prostitute, whose body is found in the trunk of one of John’s cars along with a bundle of counterfeit money. The police see it as an open-and-shut case, so it’s up to John Ray not only to prove that Freddy is innocent, but also to verify to one and all that his own business is legitimate, that he’s not continuing in his father’s footsteps. Barlow seems to get inside John Ray’s head so well that the reader connects and understands what makes him tick. Part of that is Denise Danson, the police detective he’s been dating and is in love with. But will his actions in trying to clear Freddy cause Detective Danson to sever all ties?

Set in Leeds, the dialogue and the atmosphere are not so British as to distract an American reader. That makes for seamless understanding of the action, which is plentiful. The subplots are woven in adeptly, creating a finely meshed web. There are plenty of surprises in the final chapters, making this well-wrought story that much more interesting.

As this is the first of a nine-book series, I am looking forward to subsequent installments. No indication whether we’ll see John Ray and cohorts again, or whether Barlow’s got other avenues to explore in the series, but it’s a sure bet the series will be worth reading.

Follow Here To Purchase HOPE ROAD