First published back in November of 2012, US journalist and author Jim Fusilli’s novel ‘Road To Nowhere’ formed the writer’s seventh novel to seen publication.

DLS Synopsis:
He had changed his name so often over so many years that his past self had almost become a ghost to him.  He had no home, no connections and no direction.  But he still had a past that clung to him as he tried hard to move on.  His sixteen-year-old daughter, Isabel Jellico, had discarded him.  Had pushed herself away from him after her mother, Moira, had been killed.  Something that she blamed him for even to this day.  And so now he was alone.  With nowhere to go but always onwards.

But roaming the streets and highways, you see things.  And when you do, sometimes you just have to react.  And so when he witnessed a young woman being beaten in a parking garage in broad daylight, he decides that he must do something to help.  A decision that brings him on to a pathway for revenge on the attacker whilst forming a fragile bond with the victim – Mary Louise Szarsynski.

But the knot around the attack is quickly unravelling.  And with it comes a shower of hurt and violence.  Szarsynski had made a mistake.  A bad one.  And now she was in too deep.  No one messed with Francis Cherry and got away with it.  And with that bad judgement call, so came a mountain of trouble.

But now she had someone who had chosen to get involved.  A man who had once been given the name Sam Jellico in a Witness Protection program.  And he wasn’t going to just stand back and let this young woman’s life come to an end because of one mistake.  He’d use the skills that he’d obtained over the years in becoming faceless, losing himself in the world, in a hope that he could help her to get away.  Szarsynski would have to leave Chicago, her mother, and her old life behind until this was all over.

But Cherry had his own ideas.  Szarsynski had something of his and he wanted that package back.  And so he called upon those he knew would be able to track the woman down and do everything and anything in their ability to secure the package and make the woman pay for the insult upon him.

The road in front of them is looking bleak.  And there’s a lot of ground to cover before you can be in a place that is safe to be yourself again…

DLS Review:
Fusilli’s ‘Road To Nowhere’ isn’t exactly an easy tale to follow.  The author’s choice in writing style and the stark prose that is adopted throughout the novel makes it somewhat clunky at the best of times.  Combining that and the constant flittering between a handful of character perspectives, back-and-forth within each chapter, makes for a mildly chaotic read.  And indeed, at times the sheer delivery of this gritty thriller does eventually cloud the actual storytelling in too much of a literary-smog to properly maintain the reader’s engagement with the tale.

Okay, so snappy prose with a uniquely identifiable character of its own can often be interesting and engaging in itself.  It can push a good story upwards, making it something that stands out from the pack.  But here it feels like Fusilli is trying too hard to do just that.  The cut-back and stylised nature of the writing is too conscious of itself to add any additional strength to the story.  Furthermore, the prose adopted starts verging towards becoming counterproductive in places; sometimes slowing down the actual pace of the tale and making the delivery become ambiguous and downright irritating.

However, it must be said that this somewhat critical stance on the novel is far from a popular view.  It’s plain to see in the many reviews that have been published since its release that the novel has received much praise and respectable acclaim.  And so I can’t help but think that it’s one of those reads that will not suit every reader’s palate – but is on the whole one that finds a majority of string approval.  It clearly has a great deal of merit in many people’s eyes, but for me, the whole delivery of the tale quite simply didn’t sit right.

Furthermore, without wanting to be too negative on the novel, the actual plot of the tale didn’t particularly come to its rescue.  There were times when the depth of trouble and the conflicting interests within the characters makeup began a spark of interest.  But, with little weight put into the characterisation for any of the numerous characters involved (and there are quite a few for such a short novel), it’s hard to keep up any lasting degree of interest.

Nevertheless, the finale and indeed the final ending are both tight and suitably engaging.  The novel keeps to a pre-set blueprint and maintains a certain level of lurking violence and hard grittiness.  For that alone it deserves at least some additional praise from this review.

The novel runs for a total of 203 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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