John has just won an award as Dealership of the Year (Yorkshire Region) . The morning after the award ceremony, Denise is called out to the scene of a murder. A young woman has been found in the boot of a car. A car that John had bought days before. A car that his salesman & friend, Freddy Metcalfe, has been seen driving. John can't get in touch with Freddy, who has disappeared. And then, the police find $50 000 in counterfeit money hidden in the car. Counterfeiting was the Ray family business in the old days, along with selling fake perfume & the secondhand car business. The police don't think it's a coincidence that the dead girl, Donna Macken, & the funny money, was found in a car belonging to a member of the Ray family. John is in the clear with Denise as his alibi but that doesn't mean the police won't try their best to implicate him if they can. When Freddy is found & refuses to talk, it looks like an open & shut case. John decides to find out who the killer is & he finds himself involved in a world that he had hoped to have left behind forever.
John Ray is an ambiguous character. He seems to be playing straight but there are hints that there's more going on in his life than the reader knows. The uncertainty about John & his motives certainly kept me on my toes. The minor characters are also intriguing. Connie Garcia, John's half-step-cousin, is a delightful character. Connie has come over from Spain to work in the dealership & John employs her as a favour to his father & the Spanish relatives he barely knows. Connie transforms the atmosphere with fresh coffee & croissants for the customers &, with her training at the Madrid Business School, keeps meticulous records. Although Connie seems to spend all her time on the phone chatting to her boyfriend, she's a shrewd young woman & has a few surprises in store for John. Hope Road is the first in a series & I'm really looking forward to reading the next book.
John Barlow is an experienced writer with several other books published in the traditional way with traditional publishers. I especially like the title Everything but the Squeal, a travelogue & memoir about Spain, where John now lives. He's decided to publish Hope Road independently as an e-book & it's available at Amazon, The Book Depository & anywhere else that sells e-books. Hope Road is the first of a series of nine novels about the Ray family. I can't wait for the next book. More information on John & his career can be found at his website.