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    Review of MERCY STREET by Mariah Stewart (see her website)

    Ballantine Books, May 2008

    When two teenagers are shot to death and two others disappear, the police don't know whether they're looking for suspects or more victims, and they make little headway in solving the case. The grandmother of one of the missing kids hires former detective Mallory Russo to try to do what the cops can't or won't--bring her grandson home alive and prove he is innocent of the murders.

    Mallory reluctantly agrees to take on the case. She left the police department under a cloud of controversy and is universally reviled by everyone she used to work with, except the chief and the detective hired to take her place, Charlie Wannamaker.

    Charlie has his own dragons to slay, an autistic sister and an alcoholic mother, both of whom need treatment intervention. But he keeps an open mind about Mallory despite what his new colleagues tell him, and soon the two of them are working the case together.

    This book isn't a classic mystery. There aren't any surprise twists, and the murderer ends up being the most likely person. Neither is it a classic romance, as Mallory and Charlie like each other from the start and they never come into conflict. But I found this a compelling read anyway. The pace was fast, I liked the characters and I wanted them to win.

    I'm not entirely sure why the multi-millionaire and his secretary were brought in, though, unless it is to set them up for their own book. This story could have easily survived without them.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/18/08

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