Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Book Review - Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart

Mercy Street
Author: Mariah Stewart
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Multi-millionaire Robert Magellan has quite lost his faith in private investigators ever since even the most expensive firm has been unable to locate his missing wife and child. But when his cousin, Father Conroy approaches him to hire a private investigator, particularly ex-cop Mallory Russo, to help locate two missing teenagers suspected of killing two of their best friends, Robert reluctantly agrees. What happens next changes many lives.


What did I like about this story, you may ask. Pretty much everything, would be my answer. I liked the story, the mystery was also very good and the principal characters, with their inherent flaws and inner turmoil, were the best part.

At first I thought this book would be all about solving the disappearance of Robert Magellan's wife and child which is the very first mystery introduced in this story. But then it veered off on a tangent towards the murder and the missing teenagers and that left me puzzled. I assumed somehow the two cases would be tied together, but that wasn't the case - at all! This book is all about establishing characters and their stories while setting the stage for a new series by Mariah Stewart - the Mercy Street Foundation novels.

'The case of the missing teenagers' as I mentally dubbed this mystery was a good one. It's not very cryptic and at the same time, not easy to guess at either. In short, it was just right.

Mallory Russo, an ex-cop hated by all her former colleagues, is more than up to the challenge. But her reasoning is based initially on assumptions and subseuqently, on leaps of deduction that are almost always, and astonishingly, correct. This plot device is one I personally don't like no matter what it's labeled as - feminine intuition or coming from years of experience. However I quite liked Mallory herself for her spunk, her refreshing honesty and for her resolve to do her best even when hassled by former colleagues and facing considerable danger.

And then you have the male lead - Detective Charlie Wanamaker. Now this is a character I quite came to like. He gives up his big-city job and comes back home to deal with a family emergency. His struggle to balance family and work, to restore order to his personal life, all the while dealing with a new job, new colleagues, inter-office politics, wading through rumors and having a high-profile case thrust on him - all felt very real. Although I did feel he was introduced quite late in the story. Together he and Mallory make for a great working team and this spills over into their personal life as well.

Side characters including Father Conroy, Robert Magellan and his secretary - all stuck me as affected by Robert's personal tragedy, but not all in the same manner. While I liked Conroy's positive attitude, something stuck me as off about him. I'm sure it will be explained in subsequent novels. I also suspected the same for Robert's secretary, but that one was satisfactorily squared away.

Overall I liked how all the characters came together and worked towards a common goal. But there were some little things I couldn't digest. That includes Charlie and Mallory's sudden romance (it was too quick to feel true), the leaps of deduction (as I've explained above), the harshness of Mallory's ex-colleagues' behavior towards her, the gunman case which wasn't explained satisfactorily enough to my taste and one other thing that I can't state here because it'd give away a key plot point. The worst part were the bad guys. They were almost cartoonish-ly bad, you know, over the top kind of bad and hence didn't feel very believable to me.

In Short

Mercy Street is a novel that tugs at the heartstrings and, at the same time, provides a good challenge to any mystery lover. Action, romance, suspense, betrayal and more - this novel has it all. And it ends with the formation of the Mercy Street Foundation. Hence the name of the series, as explained on the author's website. It ended in such a way that I quite look forward to the next book in the series which, again according to the author's site, is tentatively titled Goodbye Again.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

Thanks to Authors on the Web and Ballantine for sending me this book for review.
*NEW* Author Guest Post : Jasmin Rosemberg (and a GIVEAWAY!)
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  1. sounds very good and i would love to read mercy street!

  2. I hope you get a chance to, Linda!