Off The Well-Lit Path
by M. S. Holm
Sentry Books

"Rugg did not ask the cop why he robbed adolescent girls of their innocence and bragged of the obscenity. He knew the cop would have no answer."

Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality.

Rugg is an American widower vacationing with his teenage daughter. Brigands force them off the road, take his truck and the girl, then taunt the outmanned gringo before maiming him, shooting him, and leaving him for dead. Horribly injured, he is found, rushed to a hospital, and manages to survive. From the moment he regains enough strength to steal a pair of crutches and sneak away from his caretakers, he has only one goal—to get his daughter back. It is a mission that will be steeped in blood.

Author Holm proves to be not only an excellent storyteller but a literary stylist as well. His prose is clipped, curt, concise. His dialogue is crude, cruel, or compassionate, depending on which character is conveying it. He uses third-person omnipotence for the base of his narrative but parallels it with a first-person account from one of the young highwaymen. The latter is a voice that conveys an aborted formal education replaced by an immersion into lawlessness, which has resulted in an acceptance of violence as the norm and carnage as commonplace. The environment Holm depicts asks no quarter and gives none. It is a realistically frightening world guaranteed to stay with you long after the last page has been turned.

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