Clayton Burrow is facing execution by lethal injection and in a last-ditch attempt to save his life, his defense counsel brings in a new lawyer - Alex Sedaka. David Kessler's thriller opens at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Aug. 14, and doesn't let up for 15 hours, reminiscent of the television series 24.
Esther Olsen, the victim's mother, has done a strange thing. She's offered Burrow clemency, but only if Burrow reveals where her daughter's remains are, so Esther can have peace of mind before she succumbs to the cancer eating away at her body.
But there's a monkey wrench thrown into the works, and it's Burrow himself. See, he claims he doesn't know where 18-year-old Dorothy Olsen's body is because he knows he didn't kill her and that she's still alive. So the clock keeps ticking. And his execution date keeps creeping closer and closer and closer.
As the story progresses, everything is fleshed out. There are twists, of course, and more than one revelation that complicates the story and begs the question, "Why?"
Mercy is pretty exciting. It rumbles on like an out-of-control freight train, picking up speed with every turn of the page. The hypothetical scenarios all make sense, and the roadblocks necessitate some fancy sidestepping and desperate measures to keep the possible stay of execution alive as the clock keeps ticking.
I thought I'd figured out something important about a third of the way through. I was wrong. And then a little more than halfway through, something else entirely off track suddenly slapped me upside the head. But then, I was wrong again, so I gave up trying to figure things out and just went with the flow. It just kept getting better and better.
Kessler is a British writer of mystery novels and thrillers. Mercy is his first of two Alex Sedaka novels.