Mariah Stewart is an award-winning author known for her romantic suspense. However, in Mercy Street the emphasis is definitely on the suspense, rather than the romance. Mystery readers shouldn't hesitate to pick up this absorbing book with an engaging protagonist.
Mallory Russo is an ex-cop who left the Conroy, Pennsylvania police force when the "thin blue line" ganged up on her. She intended to write true crime books until she receives an intriguing offer from a reclusive billionaire, Robert Magellan. Two teenagers were shot on a playground one night, and two other teens have disappeared. Naturally, they're suspects. But the grandmother of one of the teens refuses to believe her grandson killed anyone. Magellan's cousin, Father Kevin, knows all of the teens, and urges his cousin to hire a detective. Mallory Russo is offered the job, and, as a good investigator, she can't resist the case.
In the course of her investigation, Mallory meets Charlie Wanamaker, a new detective hired by the police chief. Despite his own personal problems, Charlie makes time to work with Mallory since the search for the missing teenagers is sidelined by the police department's preoccupation with a sniper.
As mentioned before, the romance is secondary to a straightforward crime investigation. Mallory and Charlie are attractive characters who could be brought back in future books in the Mercy Street Foundation series. And, Stewart is a very smart author. She leaves Robert Magellan's mysterious story unfinished so readers will hope for answers in forthcoming books. Mercy Street is recommended for any crime fiction readers who want a fast-paced book with a complicated plot, appealing characters, and a satisfying conclusion. Most of all, it's recommended for readers who enjoy a solid detective novel, with promises of future ones in the series. I'll be waiting for Forgotten, the second book, due out in August.
Mariah Stewart's website is www.mariahstewart.com
Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart. Ballantine Books, ©2008. ISBN 978-0345492265 (hardcover), 320p.