THE MERCY TRAP by James E. Martin


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Proficient, crisp first novel from former Ohio police detective Martin, whose Gil Disbro has been budget-cut from the Cleveland force and now does bounty work (in lieu of office rent) and private investigation--such as finding the real mother of the Eberlys' adopted daughter Heather, a diabetic desperate for a kidney transplant. Sleuthing turns up the name of Alicia McCabe, a pregnant coed in the 1960's who stayed with George and Vera Trusco until after the birth. But Alicia has by now disappeared, George is a drunk ex-con, and Vera is remarried to Dudzek, who resents Disbro upsetting his wife. Then George is killed, and the find-the-mother, find-the-killer trails collide--in a cement-constructed basement room--after an inquest is riddled with perjury; goons pummel warnings; a husband tries to dissemble, and yet more murders are revealed. Strong plotting up to--but not including--the Disbro-induced suicide in an airport restroom, with the older woman (college professor Helen) and Disbro a bittersweet sidebar. Fans of the hard-boiled will be well-served, and Disbro will be welcomed another time around.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1989
Publisher: Putnam