In The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks, fourteen-year-old Reuben Ford and his seventeen-year-old brother Cole are off to find the killer of their nineteen-year-old sister, Rachel. The authorities won't release Rachel's body for their mother to bury until a killer is identified.
The story is told from Reuben's perspective, which is especially interesting because he's able to connect with the thoughts and experiences of his family members, especially brother Cole, the one who is going to do whatever is necessary to find Rachel's murderer. The one family member Reuben wasn't able to connect with in that mystical manner was sister Rachel--until the night she was killed.
p.4 "Some time later I awoke to the pain of a jagged knife ripping open my heart, and I knew without a doubt that Rachel was dead. Her last breath had just left her. I could see it stealing away on the wind. I watched it floating over a ring of stones and through the branches of a stunted thorn tree, and then the storm came down with a purple-black light that rolled the sky to the ground, and that was the last thing I saw."
When I read through the Q & A with Kevin Brooks at the end of the book, I realized the assessment of The Road of the Dead as a Western, although set in England instead of the American West, was dead-on. Retribution, revenge, the idea of just having Rachel's body to bury, boys becoming men, etc.--all inherent in the Western.
I can't wait to read my next book by Brooks. He's my favorite new-to-me author discovery of 2009 so far.
My overall personal rating of The Road of the Dead is an A-.