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The Low Road

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  172 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Unflinching, relentless, and powerfully written, The Low Road paints a searing portrait of two desperate men thrown together by chance as they both try to flee their troubled pasts. This savage noir surprises and grips at every turn. Young petty criminal Lee wakes up in a seedy motel with a bullet in his side, a suitcase of stolen money, and only a hazy idea of how he got ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by SilverOak (first published 2007)
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Jan 21, 2013 Raven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Womersley’s previous UK release ‘Bereft’ was easily one of my favourite literary fiction reads of the last year, with its beautiful prose and thought provoking examination of human relationships, so I am delighted that Quercus have released this, originally published in Australia in 2007, to bolster his recognition here in the UK. A prizewinning and stylish noir thriller, ‘The Low Road’, transcends the crime thriller genre and is a sublime example of literary crime fiction, defined by its ...more
Any Length
No stars at all. And deliberately so.
Don't bother reading this book. It is not worth it.
And I will make a point of avoiding this author in the future. There are people who can write a good book without resorting to cruelty to animals as entertainment. I'd rather read their books any day.

Spoiler allert!

I had just rejected two other books for being boring and for cruelty to animal content, so I thought I'd hang in there with this book till the end. And up until the last chapter it was kind of bea
Mar 26, 2011 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
There is noting particularly bad about Womersley's writing - in fact, it's largely pretty good, and the book is certainly gripping. The characters are largely believable, the plot turns surprising, the pacing great. There was no faked happy ending, which I think is good. I just hated it. I hated the things that happened in it. I especially hated the last scene, a lot, to the point where I had to skip over it. I never really considered myself particularly sensitive, but this was just too much. I ...more
Óscar Brox
Apr 11, 2014 Óscar Brox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El fatalismo forma parte del código genético de la literatura negra; es ese veneno para el que no se conoce antídoto y el último escollo contra el que choca cualquier posibilidad de ser libre. Lo que tiene que salir mal, sale mal. Chris Womersley entiende el noir como una especie de impasse: como el relámpago antes de la tormenta o como ese momento en blanco tras el puñetazo que te deja grogui. Puedes correr, puedes pelear por conservar tu vida, pero nunca consigues esconderte de tu destino. Por ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bleak, stark, pitiless, violent, hypnotic and strangely satisfying was my immediate reaction to THE LOW ROAD, and interestingly it's staying with me for quite a while after I've finished it. Mind you, THE LOW ROAD is not by any means an easy or enjoyable book.

Bleak - well the landscape in which the book takes place could be any dirty, grimy, lost city and the despairing suburbs. In fact it's very very hard to tell where the book is actually set until very late in the finale, so it could be New
Feb 12, 2014 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
I picked up this Australian crime novel largely based on the cover tagline: "Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction." I read a ton of crime fiction, and especially enjoy writers from other counties. However, fifty pages in, I was really questioning whether or not I really needed to read this book. I gave it another 75 pages, and just set it aside for good.

The story revolves around three men on the downslope of life. Lee is a young ex-con on the run, lying in a seedy motel room with
Margaret Wichorek
Mar 27, 2013 Margaret Wichorek rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best noir crime novels I'v ever read. It's a somber story about a feckless ex-con named Lee, who is now working for another gangster, He finds himsel in a seedy motel, with a gunshot wound , a bag of money and no clear idea about what happened. THe frowsy motel manager enlists the help of a doctor whois also at the motel The doctor, Wild, is a drug addict, who has lost both his medical practice and his family. He tries to help, realizes he can't do much with what he has , so e ...more
Jun 21, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I got this on a giveaway, and I debated about whether to give it 2 or 3 stars. The writing was well done, but the book just didn't resonate with me. The characters were distant, and I could not at any point say I truly cared about what their end would be. I appreciate the gradual revelation of the forces that shaped each of them and pushed them to their point in the novel, but I felt no empathy.

The novel was pretty gritty, the landscape and surroundings echoing the internal struggles of the cha
Jan 26, 2011 Katiekitten rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book riding on the wave of appreciation for Bereft -- and absolutely detested it. For the first time in my life when I finished a book, I tossed it across the room, and have now also given away. I do not want it on my book shelf or in my house. Yes, Womersley got a reaction from me, and probably many would consider this to be a good thing, but another reaction of mine is to never recommend this book to anyone.

On the minor level, I consider the lack of punctuation on conversation to
Jan 21, 2011 jeniwren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very impressive debut novel by Australian writer Womersley about two
desperate characters both on the run , one from fellow criminals after a
deal goes wrong and the other a disgraced doctor facing a malpractice suit
and a serious morphine addiction. Although wary of each other they form an
alliance and what begins is a desperate journey where they are faced with
some violent incidents and hideout at a deserted mansion. Soon there is no
where left to run and each must face their inner demons. Although
Rob Kitchin
Nov 29, 2013 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it
The Low Road is a bleak, dark, literary noir tale. It is somewhat of a curious story as it feels both timeless and placeless: it could be set anywhere from the mid-1930s through to the 1990s and in any reasonable sized city with a large rural hinterland. The story is all about the three main characters, especially Lee, a young petty criminal, and Wild, a doctor addicted to morphine, and their journey to try and escape their past and their developing, uneasy friendship. It is not a cheery plot, b ...more
Just not my kind of book. It's part noir thriller and part modern tale of alienation and despair and neither interested me enough to keep reading when I have a pile of books I can't wait to get to. I got to page 56 and decided to read something else.
But the writing is really very good indeed, and no one should give up on this author because his next book, Bereft is well worth reading and shows signs of impressive development as a writer. (See my review at
Jun 20, 2012 Will rated it it was ok
I won this book through goodreads giveaways. I would give it a 2.5 if it were available. I described the book to my wife when I finished, and she said, "Sounds action packed." I concluded I must have told it wrong. The book's pacing was too slow for my liking and the characters back stories that slowed the book made me dislike them even more. Saying that, I was happy the way the book ended. About half way through, you could tell the direction it was heading. The book was not a total loss and had ...more
An interesting read wavering between depressing, confronting and " eye-opening". Eye-opening I think not in the actual story but in the way it is told, the words and descriptions used. Skirting close to the edge of description overload at times yet so observant and original that it doesn't matter.

A story around an anti-hero of a type that we want to like, want to see succeed. Futile-seeming hope is intertwined with "well, why not...", the dreams aren't so large afterall that they cannot be accom
Like many man on the run tales this did not deliver an enjoyable experience, especially as none of the characters, nor the locations, were in any way attractive. Yet eventually (and it took a while) the need to know what happened - how the inevitable doom would be played out - kicked in. 'Thriller' felt a bit of a misnomer - it was too heavyweight for that - but the insight into and depiction of the vicissitudes of Lee and Wild, the gradual reveal of their characters, was very well wrought and n ...more
Brandi Johnson
Oct 06, 2012 Brandi Johnson rated it it was ok
I gave this two stars; one for its ranking & the other for me for actually finishing it.

Biggest beefs: what's with the no punctuation for dialogue? I get artistic rights, but I also have the right to give it a poor review because of it. It made conversations tedious & unenjoyable.

Also, the characters were unlikable and impossible to relate to.

Good news: I borrowed the book from the library so I'm not out any $$.
Aug 22, 2012 Dario rated it liked it
I thought it was a pretty good read and would recommend it. It had a seedy feel to it which I thought was painted well. There was no love lost on either main character even though you wanted to root for them a little. The story line was interesting and kept me reading the character though dark kept me intrigued I enjoyed it.

I received this book as part of first reads for free
Kym Piez
Aug 31, 2014 Kym Piez rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Beuerlein
Sep 15, 2012 Susan Beuerlein rated it liked it
The Low Road is the path taken by the low-life characters in this debut by Australian writer Chris Womersley. Here he is warming up his writing muscles for the beautifully crafted Bereft,, which is unlike anything I've read before. I'm glad to become acquainted with the atmospheric work of this author and look forward to his future fiction.
Taylor Lies
Feb 23, 2015 Taylor Lies rated it really liked it
I can see why the book draws mixed reviews. That being said, I'm glad I made it all the way through. It certainly evokes a noir type mood, and I've always found I need to evaluate noir books a bit differently to be fair. Anyway, give it a try. And this shouldn't spoil it, but the end is one of the most powerful set of pages I've read in a while.
Wilde Sky
A case full of money, a drug addicted Doctor, a wounded villain and a vengeful crook become intertwined.

The writing style (no speech marks in the edition I read) didn’t help the narrative flow. The characters and scenes were unpleasant but didn’t engage me as there didn’t seem to be any point to the story.
Jun 20, 2012 Jody rated it it was ok
Very well-written, but depressing and dark. The novel follows two guys, not good guys, as they try to outrun a gangster and their pasts. It is very believable, but almost to riddled with despair. It wasn't fun to read. It was a chore. Womersley is a terrific storyteller; the story just wasn't my sort of tale.
Apr 08, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
At first, I thought this book was about redemption. The more I read, the more I realized it is about resignation, about giving up, giving in to the moral low road. It was well written with great characters. It made me stop and reflect on some of the choices I've made. It was very sobering and thought-provoking. It's definitely worth the read.
Dec 23, 2013 Linda rated it liked it
This is the story of two strangers on the lam. One a drug addicted doctor the other a young petty criminal. They end up traveling companions while an aging gangster pursues the young criminal to get a suitcase with $8,000 back. I'm surprised I finished it but there were parts where the writing was very good. The story was ok but very easy to put down.
Sep 15, 2014 Jeanine rated it liked it
I did begin enjoying this book about half way through. It is just different from what I usually read. Also found it depressing & hopeless. "A man's character is his fate." - Heraclitus, On the Universe. Why does anyone choose a road that leads to a dead end - does it surprise them or reflect their truth of how they see themselves.
Feb 23, 2013 Rennie rated it it was ok
Dark and sad so hard to say it was enjoyable but you did come to care about the characters and it makes you glad your own life is not that dismal. I would read more by this author but hope he tries for at least a glimmer of light next time around.
Feb 10, 2012 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Brilliantly written but utterly bleak and depressing. Reminds me if American Rust but without the eventual uplift that makes it worth reading. Bereft is a much better novel by womersley.
May 13, 2014 Blair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
He'll be a guest at school in a couple of months. I didn't love this novel, which was his first. It's a crime kind of thing with some nice writing. His subsequent two novels, Bereft and Cairo are much better.
Kaylah Hancock
Jul 02, 2013 Kaylah Hancock rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I liked it until the last two chapters. I thought the story was presented in an interesting and I was hooked up until that point. I didn't even feel sad, I felt disgusted and a little angry with it, honestly.
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Chris Womersley (born 1968 in Melbourne, Victoria) is an Australian author of crime fiction, short stories and poetry. He trained as a radio journalist and has travelled extensively to such places as India, South-East Asia, South America, North America, and West Africa.[1] He currently lives in Melbourne, VIC.

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