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WOW! That is the one word I can easily use to describe this book very accurately. The author says this book is “A Novel of Suspense” and I couldn’t agree more. From page one to the end there is non-stop suspense, adventure, action, and lots of decidedly great police involvement. “Merciless” takes place in the city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
Moon is a believer of magic of the Fairy Tale type. Moon researches his victims by finding people thought of as bad people from deeds in their earlier lives. He then selects his victims, gruesomely dresses them, kills them, and then poses them in various locations. Most of the story takes place around the Christmas holiday time of the year when the police figure crime usually slows down. Not for Moon.
Philadelphia Detectives Kevin Francis Byrne and Jessica Balzano are the partners that begin the search for this demon. Jessica is married to a Philadelphia detective who works Narcotics, while his wife and Byrne are homicide detectives. Byrne and Balzano are called to the scenes several times regarding bodies found grotesquely murdered and they find virtually no clues to the killer. The Schuylkill River seemed to be the main areas where the bodies are found. As bodies piled up the task force was enlarged. Since it was holiday time it stretched the limits of the Philadelphia detectives. One of the strange detectives teamed with Byrne and Balzano was a young eager Amish cop, Josh Bontrager, who was not afraid to get his hands dirty. He dug in and used even his off time to research for this horrible ever-expanding ruthless killer.
Roland Hannah was a pastor who helped those that were down on their luck and needed food, clothes, and help of many types. Roland had a brother, Charles, who was not completely mentally with the world. He was with Roland much of the time. They met and tried to help these people. Roland listened to them and did research on his own to try to guide their lives past their problems from a past life or their present existence. Most had been victims of a violent crime. They were all ages.
Most of the victims had a moon shaped “painting” on their stomachs made from semen and blood. What kind of a vicious killer did they have running around the city leaving bodies on the banks of the Schuylkill River or in some other desolate place? The detectives expanded their search out of the immediate Philadelphia area as they tried to find someone, anyone that could give them some hint as to who and where the killer or killers were.
When a newly retired cop was found dead, apparently killed by the same killer, the entire police department jumped on the case. Some had to handle their own regular assignments but their minds and eyes were on the lookout. Byrne and Balzano traveled from the worst areas in the city to some rural searches that took them quite a distance form Philly. Strip joints, dancing parlors, garages and mechanics, restaurants, motels, most of which were seedy in appearance, parking lots and garages, private homes, public institutions, hospitals, up and down rivers, under and around bridges, anywhere there was hope in getting a lead.
You will travel with all the characters in this book, good and bad, with you not knowing who was the good and who might be the bad! “Merciless” is one of the best suspense stories I have read, and I have read hundreds of them. You will know who the culprit is several times—or so you think! Think again! You will have a very hard time placing this book down and doing some chores. The chores might not get done. You might not be able to close your eyes and sleep either. Enjoy it as I did.