From bloody brutality to pure, poetic scenery and unfettered love, Desolation Run defies genre and dashes straight through the common thriller to deliver an impacting, unorthodox story of freedom and redemption. It’s a very well-written novel beginning with a prison break, onto a chase, and the final culmination is so impossible to see coming I had to pick my jaw up off my iPad.
Oreny, Jaime and Luke bust out of a Washington state maximum security prison when it’s discovered that Oreny has inoperable cancer. They’re soon joined by Lauren, Luke’s former girlfriend, who has her own reasons for being on the run. Their goal is to reach buried treasure, two million dollars of government military payroll, before Oreny quits this mortal coil, and finally make their way to Mexico. On their trail is Cade, a war vet and supremely messed up corrections officer.
The author has a clear mastery of language here, mixing well-written dialogue with elegant descriptions. The plot itself ought to have been simple, but the author intersperses interludes from another character’s point of view. Doc is a Vietnam War vet who has bought up a little ranch off in the mountains near the Mexico-Texas border, where he’s then subject to the unwanted attention of a border drug lord, Zavala. When the two storylines finally connect, it’s fireworks and mayhem.
I wanted to write that the ending was unsatisfactory, and without giving it away, but I reflected back on how things turned out and I realized the power of what the author had done. He had made me care so much for the characters over their stint trying to outrun the law, find peace, find love, find freedom, that I’d become very, very attached. Kudos to the author here, at the end, where things get to sloppy and horrible on the outside, yet wrapped up and tied up in a beautifully-wrapped bundle on further consideration.
I had only one nit to pick with the book, and that was the first chapter from Maggie’s point of view. It was so full of pronouns that I had trouble following along. In other chapters the tone, or the voice of the book changes along with whoever the third person focus is, but in this case (one very tiny case) it wasn’t working as well as the remainder of the book.
Overall I’m proud to award Desolation Run an enthusiastic five stars for being conventional, unconventional, dramatic, heartbreaking, awesome, infuriating, bloody, mystical and full of some really great turns of phrase. My personal favorite was: tight as a Thanksgiving belly button.
Lastly, with respect to the mechanics, this book proved to be well-edited and formatted. I found only one or two tiny errors, be they punctuation, spelling, or text alignment.
Two big thumbs up. Buy this book and bring an umbrella. Things get pretty bloody.
Brent Meske, on behalf of AIA reviewers