An Alexandria Homicide Unit Mystery by Mary Burton
Review: Merciless by Mary Burton is a sequel to last month's Senseless, featuring many of the same characters, including the Alexandria (VA) homicide unit investigating a series of murders in which only the victims' meticulously cleaned bones found.
Criminal defense attorney Angie Carlson is very good at her job, earning the nickname "The Barracuda" for her courtroom tactics. But she's also earned the animosity of the police department; they believe that one of her recent clients, Dr. James Dixon, who was acquitted of murder, is actually the person responsible for the latest string of killings. Truth be told, Angie isn't at all sure he wasn't guilty of the previous crime, and even she has to admit the circumstantial evidence currently against Dixon is fairly strong. The police investigation appears to be inconclusive in identifying a strong alternate suspect, but one aspect to the case quickly becomes clear: the killing isn't over, and Angie herself may be target.
Though there are numerous references to the events of Senseless, it isn't necessary to have read it first; doing so, however, probably makes the complicated familial relationships that are at the core of Merciless easier to understand. The two individuals introduced as a killing team in the prologue, First One and The Other, are garden-variety villains. The Other, for instance, expounds on why he left the bones of one of the victims out to be found: "After all, games were always more fun when you had a playmate. And what was the point of greatness if it went unrecognized?" Fortunately, the other characters are nearly so cardboard cutouts, more interesting and better developed. Still, the book is far longer than it needs to be, the plot not taut enough to generate and maintain a significant level of suspense, and the tie that links the novels in the end so contrived that it's actually more than a little disappointing.
Acknowledgment: Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting provided a copy of Merciless for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Zebra (Mass Market Paperback), January 2011
ISBN-13: 9781420110197; ISBN-10: 1420110195
The Seventh Victim
Zebra (Mass Market Paperback), January 2013
ISBN-13: 9781420125054; ISBN-10: 1420125052
Location(s) referenced in Merciless: Alexandria, Virginia
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Merciless by Mary Burton — An Alexandria Homicide Unit Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: February 2011
List Price: $6.99