CRUEL MERCY by David Mark
Kirkus Star


Email this review


A British policeman blunders into gang warfare and worse in New York City.

DS Aector McAvoy of the Humberside Police knows what’s important to him: his wife, Roisin; their children; his boss, Trish Pharaoh; and his job. When Irish boxer Shay Helden is murdered and his coach, Brishen Ayres, badly wounded and left in a coma while on a trip to New York, the Traveler families of both men suspect rival Traveler and fellow boxer Valentine Teague, who is Roisin’s brother. Pharaoh pulls strings to get Aector sent to New York to try to prove Valentine innocent before the long-simmering differences between the Traveler families become open warfare. His NYPD liaison, Ronald Alto, has been told only that Aector has knowledge that might help with the case, but Aector opens up to him, which puts Valentine on the suspect list in New York. Since the visitors had been in New York only two days and spent most of their time at the gym in hopes of arranging a boxing match for Shay with a major promoter, the police are having trouble establishing another motive. The pair also visited Saint Colman’s church, the former parish of Father Jimmy Whelan, a popular priest now in Ireland who helped Valentine get a last-minute passport to follow Shay and Brishen. Aector’s questions attract the interest of the Italian and Russian mafias, who both have an interest in boxing, legal and otherwise. Helping the NYPD catch a sexual predator helps establish Aector with the locals, but much is still being hidden from him. Occasional chapters throughout the book reveal the thoughts of both a stone-cold Mafia hit man and a psychopathic killer whose horrific crimes may be related to both the Mafia and the church. Though he’s never imagined chatting face to face with Mafia bosses, that may be the only way he can untangle a series of murders past and present and save Valentine.

To call Mark’s novels (Taking Pity, 2015, etc.) police procedurals is like calling the Mona Lisa a pretty painting. Beautifully crafted, filled with flashbacks, horror, angst, and chilling detail, this one is his most complex and best yet.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-18511-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2016


FictionTAKING PITY by David Mark
by David Mark
MysterySORROW BOUND by David Mark
by David Mark
MysteryORIGINAL SKIN by David Mark
by David Mark


FictionSIMISOLA by Ruth Rendell
by Ruth Rendell
MysteryWHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER by Peter Robinson
by Peter Robinson
FictionTOO CLOSE TO BREATHE by Olivia  Kiernan
by Olivia Kiernan
MysteryDARKNESS, DARKNESS by John Harvey
by John Harvey