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In Search of Mercy: A Mystery Hardcover – October 12, 2010
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Winner of the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Competition, Ayoob's outstanding debut introduces a flawed hero who transcends all the flawed hero clichés. Dexter Bolzjak found fame as a high school œphenom in hockey-mad Pittsburgh until he had a meltdown during a game at the Pennsylvania state championship in 1993. Eight years after being abducted and brutally assaulted by deranged sports fans, the 25-year-old Bolzjak sorts warehouse produce and takes care of œJob 1 --maintaining his sanity. Then he meets an old drunk, Lou Kashon, who offers him big bucks to find a reclusive former movie star, Mercy Carnahan, who hasn't been seen since 1958. Whether describing the chaos of a hockey game, creating a backstory for Mercy, or detailing the film editing process, Ayoob shows a sure hand. Filled with vivid, violent images and characters who leap off the page into the reader's imagination, this impressive novel builds to a startlingly ambiguous ending.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This winner of the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel competition is about as noir as it gets. How noir is it? It’s set in a post-apocalyptic-seeming wrong side of Pittsburgh in 2001. The hero rents one half of a friend’s basement; a sheet divides him from the other tenant, who is constantly at work, splicing actresses like Audrey Hepburn into film clips in which they’re tortured. The guy who hires the hero for some private-eye work is a brown-toothed drunk whose house could win a Hoarders competition. The hero, Dexter Bolzjak, whose high point was playing goalie in high-school hockey, has PTSD from being kidnapped and beaten the night he lost the state championship eight years ago. He works in a warehouse and tries to keep the trauma at bay. The drunk throws some hundred dollar bills at Dexter and begs him to locate his old love, a Gloria Swanson–ish former actress. True, absorbing grit; but it may make you ache for soap. --Connie Fletcher
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A reasonably interesting, well-written story about a missing (though still alive) actress and unrequited love.
But a lot of really dark, depraved, yucky stuff along the way to the not-so-satisfying end.
Despite its Winner of the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel competition, it's little wonder this one ended up in Amazon's remainder bin, where I picked it up.
I read it ... but I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it.
Throw in a couple of broken families, some guilt, a little insanity, depression and any number of base criminal acts on top of a plot that has more twists in it than a two-dollar martini bar on a Saturday night . . . and this mystery becomes downright irresistible. It’s not for the faint of heart however. It contains strong language and graphic descriptions, but if you like ‘em hard-boiled and noir, then this one’s for you.
Years later, Dexter is grown up. Dexter was sitting eating lunch at a fast food joint, when a bum comes walking in. The bum starts causing some trouble when he spots Dexter and walks towards him. Dexter thinks the man is crazy but when the bum hands Dexter a hundred dollar bill and tells him there is more where that came from and to visit him the next day, Dexter can't resist the temptation.
The bum is not really a bum but Lou Kashon. Lou knows Dexter's father. Lou wants to hire Dexter to find Mercy Carnahan. Mercy used to be a very famous actress back in the day. Dexter agrees. Dexter is headed down a dark, gritty path, where there is no turning back.
In Search of Mercy is Mr. Ayoob's first novel. I have to say that after reading this book that Mr. Ayoob has nothing to worry about as his future as a writer is bright. The way Mr. Ayoob portrays mannequins in this book, just may have you quickly getting over your fear of clowns. Dexter is one disturbed individual but this is what I think gives him the edge as a private investigator. The flash back of the torture Dexter endured is horrific. Also, when Mercy would visit Dexter in his images, it was kind of like a weird trip but in a good way. In Search of Mercy is a hard core, dark, suspenseful and filled with a strong storyline and an engaging character in Dexter. Fans of private investigator mysteries will enjoy this new voice.