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Dark Ride

A novel by


From the award-winning author of November Road comes a masterful thriller where an unlikely hero goes up against a deadly crime boss

Sometimes the person you least expect is just the hero you need

Twenty-one-year-old Hardy “Hardly” Reed—good-natured, easygoing, usually stoned—is drifting through life. A minimum-wage scare actor at an amusement park, he avoids unnecessary effort and unrealistic ambitions.

Then one day he notices two children, around six or seven, sitting all alone on a bench. Hardly checks if they’re okay and sees injuries on both children. Someone is hurting these kids.

He reports the incident to Child Protective Service.

That should be the end of it. After all, Hardly's not even good at looking out for himself so the last thing he wants to do is look out for anyone else. But he's haunted by the two kids, his heart breaking for them. And the more research he does the less he trusts that Child Protective Services —understaffed and overworked—will do anything about it.

That leaves…Hardly. He is probably the last person you’d ever want to count on. But those two kids have nobody else but him. Hardly has to do what's right and help them.

Gradually, with assistance from unexpected allies, he develops investigative skills and discovers he’s smarter and more capable than he ever imagined.

But Hardly also discovers that the situation is more dangerous than he ever expected. The abusive father who has been hurting these children isn’t just a lawyer—he also runs a violent drug-dealing operation. The mother claims she wants to escape with the kids—but Hardly isn't sure he can trust her.

Faced with a different version of himself than he has ever known, Hardly refuses to give up. But his commitment to saving these kids from further harm might end up getting the kids, and Hardly himself, killed.

Genre: Mystery

Praise for this book

"Lou Berney is such a talent, and he's at the top of his game here. Hardly Reed is a protagonist to root for - an affable stoner who just might be the one person who can save two children in danger. Dark Ride will grab your heart in chapter one and not let go until the final, searing page." - Alafair Burke

"I've been a Lou Berney fan for years, and Dark Ride is a cause for celebration. A suspense novel shot through with heart and soul, it has the feel of an instant classic. Through the journey of Hardly Reed, a lovable pothead turned amateur detective, Berney wrestles with a central existential question: what do we owe our neighbors, and what are we willing to give up to help them?" - Steph Cha

"Dark Ride is Lou Berney at his best. This story of a disaffected scare actor at a theme park who finds his purpose in the defense of two abused children is both thrilling and heartbreaking but ultimately life affirming. The story of a man who finally stands for something after a lifetime of falling for anything will haunt you." - S A Cosby

"Dark Ride is quite simply dynamite. Lou Berney lights the fuse on the first page and from there, the suspense builds to an utterly explosive climax. Berney offers an endearing and quirky cast of characters, not the least of which is Hardly, the most unusual and likeable protagonist to come along in a great while. This is a story that grabs you by the throat, then reaches deep into your heart. It's a dark ride, yes, but one well worth the trip." - William Kent Krueger

"Dark Ride is a wild, funny, intense, charming, brilliantly written thriller that I couldn't have loved more. From page one to the stunning end, I was under its spell. (If you don't love this book, give me a call so I can tell you what a moron you are.)" - Lisa Lutz

"Dark Ride is a brilliant book from a master storyteller. Sometimes the hero you need is the person you least expect and Berney's novel takes you on a remarkable journey where you witness an unlikely stoner become the hero two children in trouble need." - T J Newman

"Put your to-be-read pile to the side. A new book from Lou Berney should go to the top of your agenda." - Lori Rader-Day

"Poor Hardly Reed! There he is, just peacefully floating through life on a marijuana cloud, working in a rundown amusement park, when he encounters two kids he suspects are being abused. For once in his life he realizes he can't stand by and do nothing. Obsession leads him down a heart-wrenching and twisting path, populated by a richly drawn cast of weird and lovable characters and dangerous scenarios. Dark Ride is moving, deeply involving, funny, breathless, and I loved every single page of Hardly's harrowing journey from stoner to sleuth." - Lisa Unger

"Dark Ride is a remarkable book written by Lou Berney, a storyteller I admire as a writer and cherish as a reader. Dark Ride effortlessly grabs you and does not let you go until the final page. I didn't want this book to end and it stayed with me long after I finished reading it. Lou Berney is a magnificent writer with talent to burn." - Don Winslow

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