Monday, January 2, 2012
No Mercy - Lori Armstrong (-)
Wow, has it really been that long? Ok, so over the holidays, I decided to go back to one of my comfort reads - a crime novel. Without much idea of what to go for, I decided on the Shamus Award winner for Best Novel of 2011. The Shamus Awards are PI centered novels, and I have a VERY soft spot for this sub-genre. So anyway, that led me to purchase No Mercy by Lori Armstrong, a completely new author for me.
The book is about an Iraqi/Afghanistan soldier/sniper, Mercy Gunderson, on medical leave, who returns home in South Dakota just after the funeral of her father - a well respected Sheriff. While home, shit starts to hit the fan in the normally peaceful town, as dead bodies start to pile up and many of them are found on the land of the Gunderson ranch...and appear to be tied to the dark cloud history that has always seemed to follow the Gundersons...indeed one of the bodies is Mercy's nephew. If this all sound interesting to you, dear reader, I have bad news for you...
I am at a loss for how this book won any Best Novel award. My problem was that I just didn't care...about any of it. As is often the case in these situations, the blame lays on the shoulders of the main character. Mercy is an interesting concept for a character. She is tied to the times. Interesting to see a POV from a female soldier. Also, she's dealing with post-traumatic stress...etc. Not bad at all. But somewhere when going from that scarecrow concept to actually breathing life into the character and animating Mercy...well let just say we're left with ratty clothes stuffed with hay. She is tough as nail one scene...sensitive mush the next. I understand the need for inner conflict, but wow this was bordering on multi-personality disorder...something I'm sure was not intended by the author. And reading how Mercy went to putty every time she was around the new Sheriff, who replaced her father, was just the kind of stuff you find in a "penny dreadful".
So is there anything good to say about the novel? The premises were good...I liked the concept of Mercy. I like family dysfunction stories. Plenty of that here. I'm usually drawn to stories that explore Native American traditions/culture, etc. A lot of the story centered on this. So yeah, it looked like something for me. The execution just wasn't there. I blame Mercy.
It took me about a WEEK to finish the last 30 pages of this book. Maybe that is all that needed to be said about this one.