Off The Well-Lit Path

(13 customer reviews)


Carjacked in Mexico by highway gunmen, an American tourist is shot and left for dead, his teenage daughter abducted. He awakens in a local hospital with one foot, no money or identification, and no trace of his daughter. His search to find her sets in motion a chain of violence that blurs the line between what a man does in the name of redemption and what he does for revenge.

“A thrilling and moving story of love and desperation” — Kirkus Reviews

SKU: 978-0-9974553-8-0 Category: Tag:

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Paperback, eBook (ePub)


978-0-9974553-8-0 (Paperback), 978-0-9974553-7-3 (ePub)

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5"x 8.25"




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Travel Warning

U. S. State Department

Travel Advisory LEVEL 4:
Sinaloa, Mexico


Murder, carjacking, extortion, and robbery are widespread. Criminal organizations operate in Sinaloa state. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services. U.S. citizens who travel should have a contingency plan for emergency situations. 

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Mexico City

Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtemoc
Mexico, D.F., Mexico C.P. 06500

  • Telephone: 011-52-55-5080-2000
  • Emergency American Citizen Services:  01 800 681 9374 (toll free)
  • Fax: 011-52-55-5080-2201
  • Email:

Web site: U.S. Embassy Mexico City

For more travel information visit:

Behind the Story

13 reviews for Off The Well-Lit Path

  1. Kirkus Reviews

    “Holm beautifully combines two typically incongruent fictional genres: a gripping, action-packed novel and an emotionally astute drama. His writing is poetically austere at times, invoking the hard-boiled prose of Cormac McCarthy. And the surfeit of action the book delivers unfolds in captivating language, the violence terrifyingly real, the danger sickeningly ubiquitous … A thrilling and moving story of love and desperation … A memorable literary experience.”

  2. Joe Kilgore / US Review of Books

    “Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality. The environment Holm depicts asks no quarter and gives none. It is a realistically frightening world guaranteed to stay with you long after the last page has been turned.”

  3. John M. Murray / ForeWord Reviews

    “Bare bones but rhythmic in its flow … Off The Well-Lit Path is a thriller that’s focused on vengeance and the dark side of humanity … Captivating and ultimately satisfying.”

  4. Blue Ink Reviews

    Off The Well-Lit Path is a spare, violent literary thriller that delivers an intense and utterly absorbing reading experience … Holm has delivered a bruising but outstanding thriller about how far a father will go for love.”

  5. Melissa Betar

    At no point in my life did I think I would enjoy a book about human trafficking, Mexican gangs, and an act of revenge, but here I am raving about this book.

    M. S. Holm took me on a wild adventure through the eyes of two very different men: Bob Rugg – a father who will risk everything to save his daughter, and Speedy – a young man who works for the Mexican gang that abducted Rugg’s daughter. With alternating points of view, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride full of emotions, praying for the return of Rugg’s daughter, and rooting for the safety of Speedy.

    Thank you, M. S. Holm, for taking me on a trip OFF THE WELL-LIT PATH. I don’t think I’ll be visiting Mexico for a long time.

  6. Kelly Watley / NetGalley

    Such a great read to get immersed in … Great detail and engaging characters.

  7. Wanda Maynard — Goodreads

    Amazingly suspenseful read with a strong beginning, which helps this story to take off like a shot.

  8. Margaret Wilkins / NetGalley

    A fascinating tale, well written. Having traveled to Mexico numerous times, I was able to look at the story from a different angle.

  9. Kaye Winona / NetGalley

    Welcome to the literary (and geographic) territory of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, or anything by Don Winslow. I know, I know — comparing M.S. Holm to these two writers is high praise, indeed, but it’s entirely warranted.

    Or, for anyone who loved Elmore Leonard for his gritty noir and beautifully-written prose, here is someone who’s carrying on the tradition. The suspense is keen, the cultural insights are brilliant, the language is deceptively simple.

    Holm has created memorable characters in Bob Rugg, the American tourist who is attacked by a team of Mexican highway carjacker-murderers south of Nogales (he is left for dead and is daughter is abducted), and Rayo, the youngest member of the gang of bandidos (for whom the brutality of the attack on Bob and his daughter is an everyday occurrence.)

    The story alternates between the viewpoints of Bob and Rayo. Holm builds in the reader a heartbreaking empathy for both these characters.

    This was a near-perfect book.

  10. Adrian Fingleton / NetGalley

    A fast-paced, engaging, modern horror story about losing a child. I found the narrative about the underworld in Mexico credible.The corruption, as it was portrayed, aligned with what I perceive to be the situation in Mexico. A good read, especially if you are not concerned by violence.

  11. Renee Mazin / NetGalley

    This is a very unsettling noir mystery located in modern-day Mexico, along a most dangerous stretch of highway in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora. Bad things happen immediately when Bob Rugg and his young teenage daughter are hijacked by men who have the worst of intentions. The relentless action goes from one horror to another, as a severely injured Rugg seeks to find his daughter and the perpetrators. Help is not forthcoming from either the inept Americans or the corrupt Mexican officials. Kindness is a rare commodity.

    The author does something unusual with this bleak tale. A parallel narrative is shown through the eyes of one of the youngest thug wannabes. He believes he has no path but to become a member of this vicious gang. Rayo, despite his criminality, somehow comes off as a more human character.

    For readers who want a thriller laced with violence and anxiety — this is it!

  12. The Prairies Book Review

    A tense, taut, character-driven thriller … a triumph of a book!

    Set against the harsh, unforgiving backdrop of a Mexican state where murder, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and robbery are widespread, Holm’s gritty thriller narrates harrowing journey of a father who sets on to search for his daughter after a highway robbery. Left for dead, Bob Rugg is determined to get his young teenage daughter back after a group of Mexican highway carjackers abduct her in broad daylight. Holm’s crisp prose brilliantly depicts Bob’s simmering grief, raw anger, and utter desperation as well as young Rayo’s struggles to survive in his harsh environment. The stakes run high, and the reader will long for a neat resolution. Profound in its deliberations and extremely gripping, the unsettling, dark novel will stay with the reader for long after it’s finished. Fans of Cormac McCarthy should feel right at home. Absolutely brilliant!

  13. Lael Braday

    Holm paints a graphic picture of human trafficking in Sinaloa and a gritty portrait of a father’s love. A well-written, tension-filled story.

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