ANGEL OF MERCY by Andrew Neiderman


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 In his artless 24th novel, Neiderman shows a better grasp of thriller mechanics but less originality than he did in The Solomon Organization (1993). Young and beautiful private-duty nurse Faye Sullivan has made a name for herself as an angel of mercy to the terminally ill in Palm Springs, Calif., and before that in Phoenix, Miami, Richmond, and St. Louis. Her sister Susie, an identical twin if you ignore the leg brace and the fact that she is retarded, often moves in as comforter and companion to the grieving widow or widower. No one seems to notice that whenever one of Nurse Sullivan's patients dies, their grieving spouse commits suicide shortly afterward, often using the dead person's medication. No one, that is, except Frank Samuels, a 58-year-old homicide detective a week away from a pacemaker and retirement. Samuels convinces his cranky boss; his 26-year-old partner, Rosina Flores; and his angelic wife, Jennie, to let him nab the ``medical murderer'' and go out in a blaze of glory. Neiderman unsuccessfully uses a favorite technique of making one of Samuels's daughter's a radical feminist to drum up conflict with her benevolently macho father and set off listless sparks in an otherwise perfect family. A quirky forensic pathologist nicknamed ``Corpsy,'' who has the misfortune to fall in love with the psychotic nurse, adds some interest, but he is disposed of quickly. The detailed descriptions of how to use various medications for poisoning or suicide are too pedestrian to be shocking. There is a wealth of gratuituous sex scenes, including several flashbacks of the tender rapes Faye endured from her father, but the prize goes to the scene in which Corpsy uses his electric razor as a vibrator. No-fun police procedures, flat characters, and complete lack of suspense make this story of murder among the senior set second- rate beach reading at best.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1994
ISBN: 0-399-13926-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994


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