Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Low Road” as Want to Read:
The Low Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Low Road

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  37 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 t ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by SilverOak (first published 2007)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Low Road, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Low Road

Phineas Poe by Will Christopher BaerThe Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockBlind Corners by Jemir Robert JohnsonPiggyback by Tom PittsIshmael Toffee by Roger  Smith
38th out of 104 books — 12 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 313)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
Feb 12, 2014 Tony rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Óscar Brox
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
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
Margaret Wichorek
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
Taylor Lies
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
I didn't finish this bleak murder mystery mainly because it was just too black and depressing. I also found the writing contrived and rather overwrought. Example: Her moist eyelids opened then closed ponderously like sea anenome! Really!?
24 horas me ha durado. Qué mal cuerpo te deja, una mezcla de dolor y angustia, y sabor a tierra y a sangre. La historia es buena, pero lo que lo hace brillante es cómo te la cuenta.
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.
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
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 books 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
Brandi Johnson
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 $$.
Linda Jones
Didn't like it. The beating of a horse to death was beyond me
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.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Beuerlein
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.
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.
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.
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.
Espectacular, es pec ta cu lar, el estilo de este tío es alucinante, la trama es brutal, la traducción exquisita, que queréis que os diga, me encanta cuando encuentro una novela así. Recuerda un poco a McCarthy, en la crudeza, en lo seco y oscuro, pero es diferente, único, leedlo, es un MUST.
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Prime Cut
  • Black Wattle Creek (Charlie Berlin, #2)
  • The Old School
  • Silent Fear (Detective Ella Marconi, #5)
  • The Omega Scroll
  • Blood Moon (Inspector Challis, #5)
  • Fan Mail (Sophie Anderson, #3)
  • Dark Horse
  • A Few Right Thinking Men (Rowland Sinclair #01)
  • Spider Trap (Brock & Kolla, #9)
  • In the Morning I'll be Gone (Detective Sean Duffy, #3)
  • Black Ice (Detective Jill Jackson, #3)
  • Something Fishy (Murray Whelan, #5)
  • Already Dead
  • Present Darkness (Detective Emmanuel Cooper, #4)
  • Savage Tide (Marika Hartmann, #2)
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.

More about Chris Womersley...
Bereft Cairo The Mare's Nest / A Rope Stretched Between (RAF Vol 11 issue 3) Beraubt: Roman The Best Australian Stories 2012

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »