Cover image for The absence of mercy : a novel
The absence of mercy : a novel
Burley, John, 1971-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow Paperbacks, [2013]

Physical Description:
339 pages ; 21 cm
John Burley's The Absence of Mercy is a harrowing tale of suspense involving a brutal murder and dark secrets that lie beneath the surface of a placid, tight-knit Midwestern town. When a brutally murdered teenager is discovered in the woods surrounding a small Ohio town, Dr. Ben Stevenson--the town's medical examiner--must decide if he's willing to put his family's life in danger to uncover the truth. Finding himself pulled deeper into an investigation with devastating consequences, he discovers shocking information that will shatter his quiet community, and force him to confront a haunting truth. With its eerie portrait of suburban life and nerve-fraying plot twists, The Absence of Mercy is domestic drama at its best.--Publisher's description.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Just west of the Ohio River lies the peaceful town of Wintersville. Safe from the crime and congestion of city life, it is the perfect place to raise a family - or so they thought. Life as the town medical examiner is relatively unhurried for Dr. Ben Stevenson. With only a smattering of cases here and there - car accident victims, death by natural causes - he has plenty of time to spend with his loving wife and two sons. That is until a teenager's body is discovered in the woods and Ben, as the only coroner in the area, is assigned to the case...

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Parents' fears for their children are at the heart of this chilling debut. Small-town Wintersville, Ohio, is shaken when violence strikes its youth, first in the mutilation and murder of a 15-year-old boy, then in an attack obviously by the same perpetrator on 16-year-old Monica Dressler, who somehow survives being brutally stabbed, bitten, and maimed. Having autopsied the first victim and seen the damage done, Coroner Ben Stevenson fears for the safety of his sons Thomas, 16, and Joel, 8. As police reach a standstill, with their only suspect ruled out, Ben's physician wife, Susan, withdraws from discussing the case and discourages Thomas' increasingly close relationship with the still fragile and traumatized Monica. Then a perceptive young detective puts some pieces together, further tearing the town apart. Physician Burley sensitively portrays parents dealing with damage and loss in a well-constructed plot with increasing tension. An occasional passage of too-florid prose is easily forgiven in this relentlessly readable thriller that will leave readers of suspense waiting for more.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.