The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone

The Lonely Mile by Allan LeveroneHe had been at it so long and taken so many girls that the details of all but the most recent kidnappings had begun to merge together into a kind of delicious, nostalgic stew.
– Martin Krall

If you had a chance to save someone’s life, to be a hero, would you do it even if you knew your actions would have disastrous consequences for your own family? Or could you knowingly allow a horrific fate to befall a young woman without doing anything to intervene?

Bill Ferguson didn’t have time to consider the answer to that question before his hand was forced and he made a decision that drastically altered the lives of two young women, one of them his own daughter.

While sitting in a rest stop along I-90 on one of his runs between the hardware shops he owns, Ferguson notices an abduction in process. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who appears to realize what’s happening. Acting on adrenaline and instinct, Ferguson pulls the gun he’s licensed to carry on the would-be kidnapper, forcing him to abandon the abduction.

The young woman is saved, Ferguson’s a hero, and all’s right with the world. Right? Wrong.

Turns out the abduction Ferguson interrupted was the work of the infamous I-90 serial killer, and he’s not pleased that Ferguson interfered with his carefully laid plan. Feeling that Ferguson owes him for having cost him the chance to abduct his chosen “companion,” Krall decides to get even with Ferguson by taking his daughter as a replacement.

While that setup may sound like a typical serial killer thriller, author Allan Leverone has added enough to the premise to make The Lonely Mile stand out. Most notably, Leverone absolutely nails the main players. The story is told through the alternating perspectives of Ferguson, his daughter, and the I-90 killer, and each is utterly believable, never slipping into the type of caricature you often find in the genre.

Though a veteran of the war in Iraq, Ferguson is no Rambo. Early on he makes the conscious decision not to chase the would-be kidnapper when he flees the scene, and willingly cooperates with the FBI in their ongoing investigation into the I-90 serial killer. Even when his daughter is first threatened by the killer, Ferguson still places his trust in the authorities to handle the situation. It is only after his daughter is taken that Ferguson feels compelled to get directly involved.

For her part, Ferguson’s daughter, Carli, is neither damsel in distress nor karate chopping femme fatale. Instead, Leverone strikes a nice balance with the character, allowing her to be both terrified and tough, distraught and determined. Her actions, driven by her unshakable belief her father will come for her, are heartbreakingly believable.

Even the I-90 killer, Martin Krall, is fleshed out beyond just the cardboard boogeyman. Though his actions are outwardly reprehensible, by telling a portion of the story from Krall’s perspective Leverone allows the reader a glimpse inside Krall’s head and a chance to understand the thought process which drives him. It’s neither pretty nor rational, but it makes for a much more interesting bad guy. Indeed, interesting and engaging from start to finish, The Lonely Mile is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced read.

The Lonely Mile is available from StoneHouse Ink.

Allan Leverone is a three-time Derringer Award finalist for excellence in short mystery fiction, as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for his dark short story, “Dance Hall Drug.” His short fiction has been featured in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, A Twist of Noir, Shroud Magazine, Dark Valentine and many other print and online magazines. His debut thriller, Final Vector, was released in February, 2011 from Medallion Press. Allan lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire, with his wife of nearly thirty years, his three children, one beautiful granddaughter, and a cat who has used up eight lives. To learn more about Allan, visit his website.

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  • Charles Wingfield

    September 28, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    Hey Elizabeth, thanks for the heads up on this book. Sounds good. I’ll check it out!

  • sabrina ogden

    September 26, 2011 - 11:24 am

    Love this review, Elizabeth. The Lonely Mile sounds pretty intense. Nothing better than a fast-paced thriller. Adding it to my list.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      September 26, 2011 - 4:05 pm

      It was definitely a one day read. And while it doesn’t end with a sequel being obvious, nothing is left hanging, there is certainly a path that could be taken farther with one of the characters. We’ll see…