Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dying For Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead-a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.

Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her KEY News colleagues-producer Annabell Murphy, cameraman B.J. D'Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez-discover that Pentimento holds the key. Nestled in the park's sprawling architectural masterpieces, picturesque gardeners' cottages, and lush, rolling landscapes, the glorious mansion is actually a giant "puzzle house," filled with ingenious clues hidden it its fireplaces, fountains, and frescoes that lead them from one suspicious locale to another-and, one by one, to the victims of a fiendish killer.

As Pentimento gives up its secrets, it becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe. But just when Eliza unearths one final surprise, she comes face-to-face with a murderer who believes that some puzzles should never be solved.

This was my very first book that I won off a blog once I started blogging and entering giveaways and for that reason alone it will always hold a special place in my heart. I am a humongous fan of mystery novels never strayed to far from Agatha Christie, the Jessica Fletcher books, and a few other favorite authors. So when I received this book I was excited to read it.

What I did not know at the time was that it is part of a series and that there are quite a few books that take place before this one, so some of the references flew right over my head. On the good side though, I didn't have to necessarily do the one thing I think a reader needs to do in order to enjoy a long running series that doesn't star a police or professional detective, which is to suspend the disbelief that this many horrible things can happen to and around one character all the time. When you jump into the middle of a series you don't really know all the past stuff so there is nothing to there to jumble your mind.
The book actually opens with a unknown male committing the most horrific act of suicide I have ever read in my life. I'm not sure it would even be physically possible for one person to do this to himself without passing out from the pain. That being said, self inflicting yourself with stigmata is definitely going to get you attention. The rest of the book deals with Eliza trying to figure out why he did it and what all the clues he left behind point to.

Overall I liked the book and it kept me engaged enough that I'm thinking about going back and reading the first book in the series to see how it all started. The character of Eliza is dynamic enough to make me what to read more about her and her daughter who apparently was kidnapped in a previous book.

I did have a few issues with the book, though they tend to be minor. First, I have always felt that the success of The Da Vinci Code has created a need in a lot of authors to write a book that contains a secret code, normally using religious symbolism, in order to drive the plot. Some authors do it well, some horribly, this one was neither. It didn't feel well thought out but I still makes sense within the storyline. My second issue was the motivation behind the suicide. If you really feel that badly about a past crime, would you really kill yourself in such a manner? Why not just tell the truth? The outcome would have been the same either way. The people responsible for the crime would still be held responsible, the loved one you are trying to expose for new crimes wouldn't have been able to do anymore horrible acts, and less people would have died. Like I said they are minor issues though and didn't detract from the story.


Elena said...

This book sounds interesting however I am a such a baby when it comes to graphically violent scenes that I might have to skip this one based on that suicide you described :(

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I like this cover. I have not read Mary Jane Clark in years. This is a good reminder of authors out there that have been around a long time.

Beth (BBRB) said...

I hate reading later books in the series without readng the first, well first. :)

Love the cover too!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I do agree with you on the Da Vinci Code thing. There is a fair amount of mystery authors I don't want to read because of that (Steve Berry for one).

This is a great review. I've never read her.

Have a great weekend.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I don't think I've read this author, although it is possible that I did in one of my other lifetimes. LOL.

Sounds good, though.

IceJewel said...

hmm, Stigmata..! I remember seeing it on National Geographic – ' Is It Real? – Stigmata' ! I really don't know if thats real or not !

Yup, while I was reading the synopsis, the first thing that came into my mind was 'hey..this sounds like The Da Vinci Code !'.

I will prefer to read the first book in the series.This would definitely be a big time bouncer for me !

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I did not know this book was part of a series. I had thought the book looked and sounded intreging. Thank you for the information of it being in a series and not the first book. I will have to look into the other books now before I go get this one.

Thanks for the great review.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Hi Ryan - I have an award for you. Stop over when you have time. :)

Anonymous said...

I hate reading things out of order, but sometimes it just ends up happening.