One of the first things you’ll be told as a budding writer is to ‘show’ not ‘tell’. Because apparently audiences (ie. readers) find it boring (or at least less engaging) and feel patronised. At least that’s why I’ve always assumed you don’t provide laborious detail in your prose.
David Baldacci very much breaks that rule in the beginning of his latest novel, Mercy, providing backstory on FBI Agent Atlee Pine and her sister, kidnapped three decades earlier. And I for one appreciated it because, even though I’ve read the entire series AND re-read my review of Mercy’s predecessor, Daylight, I was a bit murky on the details. So Baldacci’s summary – succinct yet informative – hit the spot.Mercy
by David Baldacci
Series: Atlee Pine #4
Published by Macmillan
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
For her entire life, FBI agent Atlee Pine has been searching for her twin sister, Mercy, who was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Mercy’s disappearance left behind a damaged family that later shattered beyond repair when Atlee’s parents inexplicably abandoned her.
Now, after a perilous investigation that nearly proved fatal, Atlee has finally discovered not only the reason behind her parents’ abandonment and Mercy’s kidnapping, but also the most promising breakthrough yet: proof that Mercy survived her abduction and then escaped her captors many years ago.
Though Atlee is tantalizingly close to her family at last, the final leg of her long road to Mercy will be the most treacherous yet. Mercy left at least one dead body behind before fleeing her captors years before.
Atlee has no idea if her sister is still alive, and if so, how she has been surviving all this time. When the truth is finally revealed, Atlee Pine will face the greatest danger yet, and it may well cost her everything
So… not-so-spoiler-alert… Mercy Pine is alive. Atlee may not know if she remains so 19 years after her escape from the Atkins’, but we know because we’re quickly introduced to Eloise Cain who we learn ‘was’ Rebecca Atkins… who happened to escape her abusive adoptive parents.
I appreciated that Baldacci didn’t waste a lot of time keeping us guessing IF Eloise (El) is Rebecca. But of course the twist is that El has no idea she was once Mercy Pine. So when the FBI puts a call-out to locate her she assumes it was because of what happened when she escaped the Atkins’.
Of course (although she doesn’t know it) El’s not in trouble and there’s no mystery or issue in the present, given her kidnappers are no longer a threat.
Or at least there wouldn’t be if El hadn’t inadvertently pissed-off a wealthy businessman (and cold-hearted thug) by intervening when his drunk ex-con brother violently attacked his girlfriend.
El puts the event behind her so has no idea she’s incurred the wrath of a man who puts a hired killer – Britt Spector, a former FBI agent – on her tail.
I was supposed to only read part of this book when I opened it, but as is often the case with Baldacci’s action-packed and well-paced thrillers, I kept going until I was finished.
It becomes a race against time with Atlee and Carol trying to track down Mercy, unaware someone else is after her.
Baldacci didn’t belabour our introduction to Mercy here and he doesn’t overplay the eventual meeting of the sisters (and what comes after). I think it takes some skill and experience at one’s craft to not be tempted to over-dramatise something you’ve spent books building up to.
I’ve really enjoyed this series and realise it may potentially end with this book. However… through the introduction of Spector, Baldacci has potentially given us a brand new protagonist and / or series which may see Atlee and / or Mercy pop up again.
Mercy by David Baldacci was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.