I’ve just started reading The Low Road by Chris Womersley today, in fact I’m only around 40 pages into it. I’d heard some good reports of the book and it has lived up to my expectations so far. Even at this early stage though I’m struck by the intensity of his prose and the quality of the language in which even the most mundane of scenes are described. There is a strong air of despair to the story, a feeling that things are not going to go easy for those who are trapped within the covers.
There's something about the way the early scenes are described that strikes a chord within me, I reckon they're worth repeating here:
Wild slept in the back seat of his car for two nights before checking into a dingy motel at the frayed hem of the city, where practical buildings are low to the ground.
It could have simply been the edge of the city but the more descriptive phrase leaves you in no doubt about the part of town he was staying.
Stretching into the distance was a relentless urban grammar of rooftops, antennae, wires and flickering lights. A flock of birds rose and arced against the clouds like a slow throw of pepper.Wonderful imagery, in my opinion. And then there's the moment Lee aught the bullet.
With a grimace he lifted the blood-soaked t-shirt to expose a black, pea-sized hole, fringed by a mineral crust of dried blood. The surrounding skin was swollen, tender. There was blood all over his hands and smears of it on his jeans. His own blood, presumably, although he couldn’t be entirely sure. He flinched at the memory of that woman and the jump of her gun. That blunt truck of surprise. Her slow blink. Bang.
The story starts with Lee lying shot in the side and slowly bleeding in a grimy motel room, a bag of stolen money lying on the floor nearby. Joining him is Wild, a disgraced doctor on the run who reluctantly tends to Lee’s injuries. They both have a common goal, they both have to get away, but they’ve also got trouble on their tail in the form of a man named Josef.
Good noir thrillers really draw you into the depths of the story, dragging you down so that you really experience the story rather than simply read it. Right now, I can feel the first subtle tugs. It's a journey I'm fully prepared to take.