Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Early in Burley's fine first novel, a psychological thriller, Dr. Ben Stevenson returns one afternoon to his house in Wintersville, Ohio, to find his wife, Susan, terribly upset. Susan has just learned that an unidentified high school boy has been found in the local woods, apparently fatally stabbed on his way home from school. Ben and Susan have two sons, one high school age. Ben, the medical examiner for Wintersville, conducts the autopsy on the victim, who was mutilated. This vicious attack proves to be only the first of a series of assaults and murders. Ben, who's beset by nightmares involving his sons, finds himself drawn far more deeply into the case than he's mentally and emotionally prepared for. Burley, an emergency room physician, peppers the taut, cohesive narrative with plenty of authentic forensic detail. Only an unexpectedly hasty wrap-up that leaps forward in time rings false. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
John Burleys 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 towns medical examiner—must decide if hes willing to put his familys 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.
About the Author
John Burley is the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, which won the National Black Ribbon Award recognizing a new voice in suspense writing. He attended medical school in Chicago and completed his emergency medicine residency at University of Maryland Medical Center and R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He continues to serve as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and Great Dane.