Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review ~ Merciless by Mary Burton

Author ~ Mary Burton
Publisher ~ Zebra
Publication date ~ January 25th

Each skeleton is flawless - gleaming white and perfectly preserved, a testament to his skill. Every scrap of flesh has been removed to reveal the glistening bone beneath. And the collection is growing. When bleached human bones are identified as belonging to a former patient of Dr. Dillon Dixon, Detective Malcolm Kier suspects the worst. Dixon was recently acquitted of attempted murder, thanks to defence attorney Angie Carlson. But as the body count rises, Kier is convinced that Angie is now the target of a brutal, brilliant psychopath. Angie is no stranger to the dark side of human nature. But nothing has prepared her for the decades-long legacy of madness and murder about to be revealed - or a killer ready to claim her as his ultimate trophy.

My thoughts ~

If it’s not bad enough finding a dead body, imagine how awful it would be to find a pile of bones, completely stripped of all skin, flesh and muscle, then bleached and piled neatly on a picnic table? A pair of sick and twisted killers is making their presence known in Alexandria. One of them hunts down a victim, has his perverted way with them, then leaves them for the Other to perform the ultimate kill, finishing with a ritual so sick it will leave even the veteran thriller-reader sick to their stomach. This time the victim is an actress who had been missing for days, who just happens to have a six-degrees-of-separation connection to attorney Angie Carlson. Just back from a weekend away, Detective Malcolm Kier and his partner, Deacon Garrison are assigned to hunt down this deranged killer.

Angie Carlson has made a name for herself as a no-nonsense, tough as nails defense attorney. Determined to do whatever it takes to get her client off, even if it means making enemies with the police. Angie got plastic surgeon, Dr. Dillon Dixon off on charges of raping a prostitute (see Senseless), having ripped the victim to shreds on the witness stand, after proving she lied about her drug use. As a favor to her sister Eva, the same prostitute now wants Angie to help her get her child back, swearing she is clean and no longer hooking. But when the client doesn’t show up for her court appearance, something doesn’t sit right with Angie. After more bones are found, and they are believed to be that of Angie’s client, it doesn’t take long for the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. Adding in a slew of other prostitute murders and a 30-year-old murder, it becomes quite clear that there are three common denominators – Angie, Dr. Dillon Dixon, and once again, the Cross Family. Could Angie have helped get a madman back on the street to kill again? Or is Dr. Dixon just another pawn in this killer’s sick game? Malcolm, fighting his attraction to Angie because of his involvement with another woman, knows he must do whatever it takes to protect Angie from this obviously incredibly bright killer before he takes her as his final prize. The question is, can he save her in time?

Merciless is the intense, on-the-edge-of-your-seat follow-up to Senseless. It can be read as a stand-alone book, as there are references to the previous book, but I think you will get more out of the story and the characters by reading Senseless first. I enjoyed how Ms. Burton switched viewpoints between Angie, Malcolm, and the killers. We get to see the same scenes from the eyes of the cop looking to play protector, the possible victim trying to save herself, and the devious minds of two sick, demented killers. It’s nice to see that Malcolm and Angie don’t rush into their relationship. They are each given the time they need to deal with issues in their lives that, when resolved, will make their explosive union even stronger. Merciless is a taut, action-packed thriller that will hook you in from word one and won’t let you go until the final, mind-numbing, truly unbelievable, out-of-left-field ending.