The Absence of Mercy

John Burley. Morrow, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-222737-9
Early in Burley’s fine first novel, a psychological thriller, Dr. Ben Stevenson returns one afternoon to his house in Wintersville, Ohio, to find his wife, Susan, terribly upset. Susan has just learned that an unidentified high school boy has been found in the local woods, apparently fatally stabbed on his way home from school. Ben and Susan have two sons, one high school age. Ben, the medical examiner for Wintersville, conducts the autopsy on the victim, who was mutilated. This vicious attack proves to be only the first of a series of assaults and murders. Ben, who’s beset by nightmares involving his sons, finds himself drawn far more deeply into the case than he’s mentally and emotionally prepared for. Burley, an emergency room physician, peppers the taut, cohesive narrative with plenty of authentic forensic detail. Only an unexpectedly hasty wrap-up that leaps forward in time rings false. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-222739-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-246378-4
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