The Low Road

"A black dreamscape with echoes of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Samuel Beckett, Horace McCoy, Georges Simenon and Philip K. Dick" - The Australian

A young petty criminal, Lee, wakes in a seedy motel with a bullet in his side and a suitcase of stolen money, his memory hazy as to how he got there.

Soon he meets Wild, a morphine-addicted doctor who is escaping his own disastrous life and the two men set out for the safety of the country estate of a former colleague of Wild's.

As they flee the city, they develop an uneasy intimacy, inevitably revisiting their pasts even as they desperately seek to evade them. Lee is haunted by a brief stint in jail, while Wild is on the run from the legacy of medical malpractice.

But Lee and Wild are not alone: they are pursued through an increasingly alien and gothic landscape by the ageing gangster Josef, who must retrieve the stolen money and deal with Lee to ensure his own survival.

It is the beauty and brilliance of the writing that make this black, bleak tale of hunters and the hunted impossible to put down and a deeply moving reading experience
— Ned Kelly Award judges
Womersley’s taut, almost monosyllabic prose creates a relentless momentum as it plunges into a black dreamscape with echoes of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Samuel Beckett, Horace McCoy, Georges Simenon and Philip K. Dick...’
’Maybe it is Cormac McCarthy of whom the reader is so naggingly reminded. It’s a big call, but Womersley’s mastery of rhythm and image is, like the crusty American’s, able to sustain complexity at the level of a sentence and a paragraph while holding the structures of his novel together... This is writing you often stop to read aloud.
— The Australian
Womersley’s language is polished and assured, each word precisely chosen, and every image finely constructed. In a world that lacks compassion, his characters are nonetheless painted compassionately and vividly.
— The Age
On the cover of this book are the usual claims re brilliant first novel, gripping, hypnotic, thrilling, and so on. This time you can believe every word. In some ways it’s a merciless read, taking you by the throat and not letting go for a minute.
— Australian Literary Review
It’s grim, utterly gripping, and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers’ Award for an unpublished manuscript last year ... Thanks to his considerable talents as a writer, Womersley’s characters transcend their generalised origins and have emerged as fully fleshed out, complex human beings.
— The Age
The Low Road is richly and powerfully written. It is also an almost unbearably intense, tragic, and unrelentingly dark story of addiction, regret, despair, and failed dreams that left this reader mightily impressed
— Bookseller and Publisher