You know a book is good when your head is still in the story several days after it came to a very satisfying conclusion.
Jake Caldwell, chief protagonist of James L. Weaver's debut novel
Poor Boy Road is an endearingly attractive bad guy with a heart of gold.
He could have been too good to be true - the mob enforcer who fixes things by paying off the other man's debts instead of beating the hell out of him. But, without slowing down the plot with too much back story, Weaver sympathetically, shows how and why Jake ended up on the wrong side of Poor Boy Road.
And, now Jake wants out, but, first, he has one last job that can't be fixed with a fistful of dollars.
This is a wonderful character-driven thriller and, though I struggled at first with the bloody beginning, the violence is an integral part of the plot and, in fact, provides the impetus for Jake to try and mend bridges with the folks he left behind in America's rural mid-west.
They're an interesting bunch. Bear, the childhood friend, who becomes the town's sometimes unorthodox sheriff; Willie, the small-time drug runner who finds himself hopelessly out of his depth when and deal goes wrong; and Maggie, Jake's former girlfriend, now the mother of a feisty teenage daughter.
One way and another, they all help Jake redeem himself both in his own eyes and, perhaps more importantly, in the eyes of those he loves.
It's a shame this book won't be published until the spring. I would have loved to put a copy in my husband's Christmas stocking. I think he'd enjoy it as much as I did.
NB I read this book as an eARC and, although James L. Weaver, is a fellow author at Lakewater Press, this is an honest review.