“She had a quick temper and was not afraid to let it loose. He, too, had a nasty temper, and although it was slower to rise, it was murderous.”
A South African tale of crime, terror, escape and constantly looking over one’s shoulder for the past to catch up, Purgatory Road grabs the reader’s attention from the first chapter as the protagonist reacts unnecessarily violently to attempted extortion. While the subject matter remains unconvincing for the first third of the novel, the plot motors along and we sense Everyman’s darker side in John. With some surprise, I found myself two thirds in and the story slipped along to a conclusion rich with conflict and intrigue.
Earle conveys the African setting marvellously – a strong sense of dialect comes through almost effortlessly (although he could rein in the exclamation marks), and the beauty of the rugged veldt is well portrayed. John’s motivation is initially puzzling, but the character is strongly developed (as are the supporting cast) and quite likeable, by the end.
The cover is a little unnecessarily loud, but it does serve to convey the brutality within and warn off a timid reader. The quality of the self-published book was pleasantly surprising – while the cover could be thicker and a chapter heading had displaced itself, the general standard of publication is excellent. A solid debut effort from a promising author.