A doctor in small-town Ohio must weigh the need to catch a killer against his fears for his family's safety in this extraordinary debut suspense novel
Just west of the Ohio River lies the peaceful town of Wintersville. It's a place where neighbors feel like family, the chief of police knows the residents by name, and the sound of children's laughter echoes along the streets.
But when a teenager is discovered brutally murdered in the woods, Dr. Ben Stevenson—the town's medical examiner—becomes entangled in an investigation that will force him to uncover the dark secrets of his seemingly quiet community and ultimately to confront a truth that will haunt him forever.
With its nerve-fraying plot twists and eerie portrait of suburban life, The Absence of Mercy is psychological suspense at its best—a remarkable debut that challenges as much as it thrills.
“Harlan Coben meets Patricia Cornwell in an idyllic suburbia stalked by a predator that will leave an indelible mark long after the final page is turned.”
“In the tradition of Robin Cook and Kathy Reichs, John Burley brings murder to small town America. And like those bestselling novels, The Absence of Mercy is written by an expert who can also tell a really good tale. This one oozes authenticity.”
“It’s become a cliché to say you read a book in one sitting, and it’s not true here. I had to get up in the middle of The Absence of Mercy for a drink to calm my nerves.”
“Riveting, disturbing and complex, John Burley’s The Absence of Mercy is impossible to put down. The suspense starts early and is unrelenting until the very end.”
“Using his experience as an emergency room physician, Burley skillfully uses the step-by-step discovery of evidence to ratchet up the tension in his debut novel. . . . A smart, disturbing and heartbreaking thriller.”
“Will send chills down your spine. A taut psychological thriller . . . pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the lengths a parent will go to protect their child.”
John Burley’s The Absence of Mercy is a harrowing tale of suspense involving a brutal murder and dark secrets that lie beneath the surface of a placid, tight-knit Midwestern town.
When a brutally murdered teenager is discovered in the woods surrounding a small Ohio town, Dr. Ben Stevenson—the town’s medical examiner—must decide if he’s willing to put his family’s life in danger to uncover the truth. Finding himself pulled deeper into an investigation with devastating consequences, he discovers shocking information that will shatter his quiet community, and force him to confront a haunting truth.
With its eerie portrait of suburban life and nerve-fraying plot twists, The Absence of Mercy is domestic drama at its best for fans of Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Jennifer McMahon, and Lisa Gardner.