Marietta Miles paints the pages of her new 2-for-1 novella, Route 12, with desperation, despair, and a feeling of despondency that is so palpable it will leave you choking. Both of these finely written stories will satisfy any reader, but the fact that you get both to devour in one sitting should have lovers of noir salivating.
The lead story reads like an episode of America’s Most Wanted come to life. When Percy loses his mother and is ushered from a home in which his mother is deranged and he is sexually abused into a detention center, his life’s downward spiral is quickened. Quickly learning the guards are sadistic and have little concern over their charges, Percy is left at their mercy and he soon becomes as sadistic and uncaring as the men left to govern his life.
The story jumps ahead to when Percy leaves the center and begins his journey to fulfill his desire to spread ruin to all those he comes into contact with. He immediately commits a rape and a murder and sets his sights on Theresa White, a young girl who is longing to feel accepted in a world that has been cold and lonely since she lost her mother.
The scariest thing about this story is the feeling that this is a 'ripped from the headlines' tale of wretchedness that has happened countless times before and will continue to happen until time ends. This is a true masterpiece that serves as a cautionary tale of the consequences of a ruined youth.
The second tale, Blood and Sin, gives us a glimpse into a time in which unmarried women who got pregnant had to go to extreme measures to ensure their entire future was not ruined by their reckless actions. Naomi finds herself pregnant and desperate for help. She turns to her church’s pastor and believes she has found a savior. What she doesn’t realize is she is just a pawn in a much bigger scheme that only cares about her unborn child and the money the baby will bring on the open market.
Marietta Miles writes some of the bleakest, grayest stories I have read in some time. These stories have been marinated in hopelessness and served up to shine a mirror on the atrocities man can commit against one another in the name of money and in the name of self-gratification. There is so much to love about this addition to the All Due Respect library and it fits into their catalog very nicely. Dig deeply into these tales and you will find Miles has done more than just serve up a noir story; she is making some statements about the world we live in and how we are at the mercy of the animals that live along side of us, even if they wear a mask that hides their evil intentions.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.