The Road of the Dead
Kevin Brooks is the master of writing juicy thrillers for teens (MARTYN PIG, LUCAS, KISSING THE RAIN, CANDY), and his latest caper, THE ROAD OF THE DEAD, doesn't disappoint. With plenty of plot twists, pulse-racing action sequences, and just a slight twinge of sentiment to keep all parts in check, Brooks's fifth novel once again will have his devotees holding their breath until the last page is turned.
As in many of his previous books, Brooks sets the stage with an unresolved murder and plenty of complicated loose ends to untangle. "On Friday, May 14, Rachel had taken a trip to Plymouth to visit an old school friend named Abbie Gorman... On the night of Tuesday, May 18, Rachel set out from Lychcombe on her way back to London. She never arrived. Her body was found the following morning in a remote moorland field about a mile of the village. She'd been raped and battered and strangled." One dead 19-year-old girl. No killer. No motive. No leads.
Almost immediately after the news of her death, Rachel's two surviving brothers, Cole (17) and Ruben (14) set off for Lychcombe to find her killer so that the case can be closed and the ever-so-unhelpful police can release Rachel's body from the morgue to be buried in peace. What Cole and Ruben don't realize is that the circumstances surrounding her murder are a lot more complicated than they ever suspected and that it would take much more than a bit of digging (literally) to uncover the truth.
When the two arrive in Lychcombe, they are met (not unsurprisingly) with more than their fair share of resistance. Abbie and her husband, Vince, are welcoming, but definitely hiding something; the local police are doing everything they can not to find Rachel's killer; and the town thugs are itching to get in the way of Cole and Ruben's investigation --- even if it means doing whatever it takes, however violent, to ensure that the secrets they're all hiding stay concealed.
In a masterful showdown between the avengers (Cole and Ruben) and the avenged (seemingly everyone in the town, aside from Cole's surprise love interest and eventual cohort, Jess, and her family), the story barrels its way towards another Kevin Brooks signature explosive climax, leaving nothing and no one untouched when the dust finally settles.
Without a doubt, THE ROAD OF THE DEAD is riveting, thoroughly absorbing, and a pure heart-thumping pleasure to read. There are a few unanswered questions that may not sit well with some readers (i.e. Why would their mother let Cole and Ruben go alone to the town where their sister was murdered, without any backup or protection? How could one 17-year-old boy and one 14-year-old boy possibly take on an entire town? Why didn't any number of "bad guys" kill Cole and Ruben when they had the chance?), and an overwhelming presence of seriously graphic violence throughout that certainly may not sit well with some parents. But overall, Kevin Brooks's latest is an exhilarating ride that teens won't soon forget.
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on March 1, 2006
The Road of the Dead
- Publication Date: February 1, 2007
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Push
- ISBN-10: 043978624X
- ISBN-13: 9780439786249