Friday, October 1, 2010

Review - Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

400p, Avon Reprint Edition, Isbn-0061286125

Synopsis - The recently renovated Pentimento, located in New York's exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, is no ordinary estate. Strange secrets have been ingeniously built into its fountains, frescoes, statues, and architecture—clues to a bizarre mystery that is first brought to light when the owner commits suicide during a lavish gala.

Eliza Blake, co-anchor of the popular morning television show KEY to America, is present when the party is cut short by the host's sudden, macabre death—and she's the first to discover that Pentimento is a giant "puzzle house." But each piece is leading Eliza and her KEY News colleagues—producer Annabelle Murphy, cameraman B. J. D'Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez—deeper into darkness, toward a killer who believes that some puzzles must never be solved. And it soon becomes shockingly clear that no amount of wealth or privilege can keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe . . . and alive.

My thoughts - Honestly, I was disappointed. I went into it with high expectations, having read quite a few rave reviews for this book. And the beginning quite justified the hype. There is this unbelievably rich man who has built a gigantic puzzle in the form of his over-the-top mansion and here is a beautiful TV personality on the spot to put it all together - what could be better? Everything, as it ultimately turned out.

From the beginning it becomes obvious that this is not the first book the protagonist Eliza Blake has starred in. References are made again and again to some calamitous event that happened to her earlier, but nothing is ever revealed completely, which is frustrating to new readers who don't get enough background to understand the protagonist's personal or investigative character or that of her close relationship with her co-workers/co-investigators or her love life. And then there is the hub of the novel - the gigantic puzzle. Actually the main house Pentimento is just part of the main puzzle, with clues leading the investigators off-site again and again to other areas and homes. The leaps of intuition made to find and solve the clues felt too contrived. As did the whole Stigmata type suicide which again felt completely un-needed.

The whole story is more focused on describing the wealth and luxurious estates and lives of the super-wealthy living in the walled-in enclave of Tuxedo Park, a real life place for the rich and famous which is the scene of this fictional crime.

And when the explanation of the mystery is given, it's totally anti-climactic. As a reader, I was like "this is the reason for the whole mystery?!" rather than, "wow, so that's what the mystery is all about", which is the general reaction elicited by a well-developed and executed mystery story. That, right there, is the reason why I give two thumbs down for this book.

Disclosure - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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