“Ernst Kohl has spent nearly half his life in prison after being convicted of murder as a young man. Upon his release, with nowhere else to go, Kohl returns to his old family home on the outskirts of a small Michigan town, hoping for redemption, or at least understanding.
He finds a dog, a girlfriend, and a job in quick succession, and it seems as if he might finally be able to leave the past behind and make a quiet life for himself. But some of the residents, including the town’s corrupt deputy sheriff, are less than thrilled to see him, and will stop at nothing to rid the town of its infamous resident.
As events hurtle to an inevitable conclusion, Kohl is left to decide: At what point might a man break, and at what cost to himself?”
“Robert Hays has been a newspaper reporter, public relations writer, magazine editor, political campaign manager and university professor and administrator. A native of Illinois, he taught in Texas and Missouri and retired from a long journalism teaching career at the University of Illinois. He also has spent a great deal of time in South Carolina, the home state of his wife Mary, and was an active member of the South Carolina Writers Workshop. He served in the U.S. Army and holds three degrees, including an interdisciplinary Ph.D., from Southern Illinois University. His publications include academic journal and popular periodical articles and 12 books (one of these a re-titled paperback edition). His most recent non-fiction book is a biographical memoir about his close friend and collaborator, Gen. Oscar Koch, who was World War II intelligence chief for Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. Three of his five novels have been honored with Pushcart Prize nominations. Robert and Mary live in Champaign, Illinois. They have two sons and a grandson.”
This reads like suspense or a thriller, with plenty of intense moments and more than enough tension between those peaks as you wonder what’s coming next. But underneath the tension is a message, or maybe just a lot of food for thought. It had me thinking about redemption. I started wondering how I’d react if faced with corruption from those who should be the least corrupt. How these things play out in a small town where everyone knows everybody else like where this story takes place may be different than we’d expect in a big city.
Along with an intense, thought provoking story, A Shallow River of Mercy has some interesting characters that draw the reader into the story. This starts with the protagonist, Ernst, but continues to more minor characters, like the truck drivers at the truck stop diner where some of the story takes place.
Small amount of adult language and content.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
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