“He hadn’t wanted to lose Josie, and as a result he had lost everything.”
Imagine that you’ve killed someone. You didn’t mean to, but that’s irrelevant, at least to the police. Now imagine you’re given the chance to get away with it. The only condition is someone else will have to take the punishment in your place. Ask yourself: do you stay or do you run?
This is the predicament faced by Josie – the socialite turned fugitive protagonist of Peter M. Parr’s debut novel Escape To Redemption.
After learning the grisly truth of her family’s history and Curtis Rook’s part in it, Josie plots revenge. She turns to reluctant friend with benefits Snaz for help – a man too besotted by her to ever refuse.
When the plan turns horribly wrong, Josie flees to Poland. Meanwhile Snaz is left alone to face both the consequences and the sobering truth about the woman he loves. When offered a fresh start, Josie must ask herself who was truly responsible that night and how far she is willing to go to save herself.
Let me state, very simply, that I loved this book. When it was sent to me, I planned to skim the first chapter and get a sense of how to structure the review. 6 hours later I was still in my pyjamas glued to the sofa and hungrily turning the next page. It is a highly addictive, unique story which raises questions of morality, loyalty and the power of forgiveness.
From the outset, you’re thrown into a nail-biting scene as Josie and Snaz flee Rook’s house, unexpectedly leaving two bodies in their wake. What I liked about the set-up was that it was entirely believable. Whether you agree with their actions or not, you can understand how the murder might have happened. The tension rarely lets up as they desperately try to cover their crime – even if that means betraying each other. With twists in the most unexpected of places, I had to remind myself to breathe.
Part of the story takes place in Poland during the dead of winter, giving it a deliciously noir atmosphere. Everything about it felt authentic, from the accents to the Warsaw setting to the host of compelling characters Josie encounters. I was particularly drawn by Kogut, the enigmatic reformed criminal who offers Josie a chance to escape. In his assurances that it is enough for Josie to forgive herself rather than face the police, he’s something of a devil on her shoulder and I wondered how reformed he truly was.
What drew me to both main characters was that neither was presented as wholly good or bad. They were rich, complex figures who generated mixed emotions throughout every chapter.
Josie was someone I wanted to fight for one minute and strangle the next. Her relationship with Snaz is unequal on multiple levels. She’s rich, he’s working class. She’s white, he’s mixed race. She’s sleeping with him while dating another man, he’s head over heels in love. I found her treatment of him deplorable. Yet it’s clear that she’s also incredibly lonely and dependant on men to rescue her. A humbler, more selfless person emerges by the end of her journey and I was surprisingly proud of her.
Snaz, for the most part, is the more likeable of the two. An ordinary man raised by a God-fearing aunt, you despair at how he gets entangled in this nightmare scenario. He expresses much more guilt and regret than Josie, yet his heartbreak quickly turns to fury. The moment he decides to tell the truth is also the moment he ends up telling a lie that could bury both him and Josie. It made me want to hurl the book across the room, but it was an ebook and ‘acts of literary-induced rage’ aren’t covered in my contents insurance.
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