Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

In Dying for Mercy, Eliza Blake, co-host of Key to America, attends the party of her good friends, Valentina and Innis Wheelock, who live in the exclusive neighbourhood of Tuxedo Park. At the party, Innis commits suicide by stigmata, but not before he leaves behind some peculiar clues that Eliza and her coworkers must solve in order to unravel the mystery. Suicide by stigmata is admittedly strange, but maybe not for Innis. He and Valentina have recently returned from a holiday in Italy. While they were there, Innis became obsessed with St. Francis of Assisi, who first experienced stigmata. Eliza doesn't know it, but someone is determined to cover up Innis's mystery and will stop at nothing.

I loved this book. Mary Jane Clark's the queen of short chapters squeezing in 151 in 371 pages. It's not just the short chapters that I love, though. Her story telling abilities amaze me. The way she presented this mystery (and others), jumping between characters, had me on the edge of my seat reading well past my bedtime. While she provides plenty of red herrings to keep readers on their toes, she doesn't include extraneous details or irrelevant side stories. Her mysteries are tight, suspenseful and intense.

Unlike a few of her other books, this one wasn't so focused on the behind the scenes workings of the network news, although we do get to see a little of that. This one focused more on Eliza's friendship with the Wheelocks, the bizarre manner of suicide, St. Francis and other religious items. Even though there was quite a bit about religion, it didn't come across as preachy or even religious.

I love learning new things. Even though I was raised in the Catholic faith, my detailed knowledge of it is seriously lacking. The information in this story about the stigmata and other religious material filled in some holes in my education and prodded me to look up a few items on the internet. It was all fascinating stuff.

I've read a couple of other books by Clark. It Only Takes a Moment ( my review) and When Day Breaks( my review). I really enjoyed both of them. I can't wait until her next book is published. Until then there's a large backlist from which I can choose a book to keep my busy.

Highly recommended. For the beach, the hammock or your favourite reading chair.

For more information about this book or to Browse Inside, visit the HarperCollins Canada website. For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Mary Jane Clark's website.

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