Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mercy Street

Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Popppy

On a balmy spring evening, four high school seniors–three boys and a girl–enter a park in the small Pennsylvania city of Conroy. The next morning, two of the boys are found shot to death, and the girl and the third boy are gone. After three weeks with no leads and no sign of either of the two missing teenagers, the chief of police begins to wonder if they too were victims. But with no other suspects, the authorities conclude that one of these kids was the shooter.

The missing boy’s grandmother, a secretary at the local parish church, maintains his innocence. On her behalf, the parish priest, Father Kevin Burch, hires former detective Mallory Russo as a private investigator to figure out what happened in the park that night. Mallory had ended her nine-year stint with the Conroy police force some time ago after becoming a target of a smear campaign. Now a true-crime author, Mallory is surprised to receive the priest’s offer–and highly intrigued by the case. She can’t help but accept the challenge–especially when she learns that her investigation will be financed by Father Burch’s cousin the reclusive billionaire Robert Magellan, a man whose own wife and infant son disappeared without a trace a year ago, a man who understands the heartache of not knowing what happened to a loved one.

Detective Charlie Wanamaker is facing another sort of tragedy. He fled Conroy years ago with no plans to return to what he considered a dying factory town–until a family emergency brought him back. Finding the situation much worse than he’d thought, he trades his job as a big-city detective for one with the Conroy police department. Assigned to the park shooting case, Charlie quickly realizes that the initial investigation left a lot of questions unanswered. Unofficially, he teams up with Mallory to uncover the truth and find the two kids, dead or alive. What Charlie and Mallory discover will take them down a twisted path that leads to an old unsolved murder–and justice for a killer with a heart of stone.

This is my first book by Mariah Stewart. It won't be my last... in fact, I'm counting the days until the Mercy Street sequel is released, and I'm on the hunt for the author's backlist.

Mercy Street is the first book in a new series about a woman who looks for the missing. This book is mostly about the hunt for two teenagers, but has an intriguing (possibly more intriguing) secondary plot regarding the billionaire Robert Magellan's missing wife and child.

There are all sorts of undercurrents in this book: Mallory Russo left the police force under duress--her fellow police officers believe she ratted out another officer in order to get a promotion. Charlie Wannamaker suffers with the loss of a brother, an alcoholic mother, and an autistic sister. Robert Magellan toys with the idea of suicide after his wife and child disappear. His long-time secretary harbors a secret love for him, and is determined to solve the mystery behind his family's disappearance so that he can move on with his life.

All this, along with the murder of the two teens and a local sniper kept me riveted to this novel.

I loved that Mallory took the lead in the investigation, and that Charlie was willing to let her. Their romance was slow and quiet--no angst involved there, which worked well in my opinion, since there was plenty of other conflict to fuel the book's forward movement.

I do admit to not loving the wrap up of the sniper storyline--it was, to me, far too predictable. But the rest was oh so well written. All the parts of this book pulled together to make it satisfying on every level. The mystery lover, the action lover and the romantic in me were all tickled pink to read this, and I happily recommend it to other romantic suspense fans.