Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Dark Ride

Dark Ride by Lou Berney
9/15/23; 256 pages

Dark Ride by Lou Berney is a very highly recommended unique thriller. Once you start reading Dark Ride you won't be able to stop. One of the best.

Twenty-three-year-old Hardy “Hardly” Reed is an easy-going stoner who is coasting through life working at an amusement park until he sees something he can't un-see. Hardly see two children sitting on a bench with no emotion at the DMV and notices cigarette burns on both children. He tries to check and see if they are okay, but they won't talk to him. Their mother comes out, they leave, and Hardly can't forget them. 

He manages to find out who the mother was and contacts Child Protective Services about them. Soon he realizes that CPS is overworked and understaffed so the two children are going to fall through the cracks, so Hardly does the unthinkable, for him, he starts investigating them in order to save them. For the first time in his life he is willing to fight for something, but he doesn't realize exactly what he is getting involved with.

Hardly is not exactly hero material, but the perfect quote is in the synopsis, "Sometimes the person you least expect is just the hero you need." And I was supporting this guy the whole time. The pace is fast, the plot is compelling, and Hardly is focused, in his own unique way, on saving these two kids the whole time. Yes, he has numerous flaws, but he knows this one cause, saving those two kids, is worth fighting for. Goodness, I really liked this completely flawed character with such a good heart.

The writing is pitch-perfect and simply excellent. I was totally immersed in this novel from beginning to end. I laughed, held my breath, rooted for Hardly, and cried. I rooted for Hardly, the kids, and the friends who helped him throughout the narrative. One of the best of the year.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

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