Reviewed by Tomi Alo
A captivating story that explores the lengths a man is willing to go to seek justice
“I hope one day you can understand why I had to take this path. I couldn’t walk away from this fight.”
Shane T. Clark’s debut novel, The Devil Won’t Keep Us Apart, is a complex, engrossing novel that explores themes such as grief, pain, friendship, intense love, injustice, and revenge.
The story begins with the brutal murder of Albert Clouser, a prisoner at the Sherman Rehabilitation Center. This unusual killing has the police racing to make sense of the motive behind this heinous crime.
A week later, Elmer Ray, a retired assistant warden, walks into the Ohio Highway Patrol Station, requesting to meet with the person in charge. Elmer claims that he has all the information they need to solve Albert’s murder.
However, before Elmer can reveal the motive behind the death, he insists that they must first learn about two men: Adrian Franklin, Elmer’s troubled young neighbor, and Conner Wallace, a British National and underground fighter.
I must confess: I was quite astounded by Clark’s ability to weave the story together through various characters and perspectives without a single moment of confusion. It’s a marvel how he shifts from one voice to another, allowing each character to shine with clarity and purpose.
Clark’s prose possesses an enchanting quality that breathes life into the story. He paints vivid images with both broad and thin strokes, evoking a myriad of emotions and adding rich layers to the story. He does particularly well in conveying characters’ grief, pain, and overwhelming sadness.
“Why was he spared and the two best people he had ever known taken long before him? Her death hardened him. His? Turned his blood into mercury, stormed through his veins heavy and cold. Hardened the hard.”
The Devil Won’t Keep Us Apart primarily revolves around its intricate yet intriguing characters, particularly Adrian and Conner. Through Adrian, the author touches on several sensitive topics such as neglect, child abuse, poverty, and how brutal life can be. We get to see how deeply such situations can leave a scar on a child and affect how that child begins to process the world around them. Adrian was a good kid who deserved more than life offered him. It isn’t hard to sympathize with him and understand how he becomes the person he becomes.
Everyone has their breaking point, especially when something or someone you hold so dear is cruelly taken away from you. It crushes something inside you and can leave you with much anger and a thirst for revenge.
“And after what my aunt did to me, the struggles I had in keeping it together. How was I expected to let him live? Watch his television? Eat commissary? Play basketball? No. No, Elmer, I couldn’t let him do that.”
The Devil Won’t Keep Us Apart is an enthralling thriller that delivers a rich and thought-provoking reading experience about retribution and grief. I would recommend it to thriller lovers who appreciate strong prose, rich emotion, and revenge.
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