Review: The Absence of Mercy – John Burley

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062227378
ISBN-13: 978-0062227379
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Ben Stevenson – Coroner for the small town of Wintersville Ohio.
Sam Garston – County Sheriff.


A young boy is savagely murdered. But before the murderer can be found he strikes again. And again.


A great psychological thriller set in a small fictional town of Ohio. The author was able to capture the small town feel very well. The characters were well developed and likeable. There were plenty of twists and turns as first one person, then another becomes suspect. The murder scenes were quite descriptive and as such may not be everyone’s cup of tea. While it’s a small town, this is definitely not a cozy mystery.

The plot is tightly woven, and in the end the conclusion makes sense. It kept me guessing as I went along, as I had my own suspects. For a debut novel, this author has done a great job, and I look forward to reading more from him in the future. On a age scale, I’d put it as older teens and adults due to the content, but for all you thriller fans out there, you’ll like this. Grab a copy, give it a read, and stop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Burley was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up near the Chesapeake Bay. Following high school, he attended University of Maryland, College Park, graduating with Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology and physiology.

During his undergraduate years, John also trained as a paramedic/firefighter and served for many years in that capacity in a busy 911 jurisdiction in Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C. He later completed a Master of Science program in medical pathology at University of Maryland, Baltimore and went on to attend medical school, earning his Doctor of Medicine from Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago, Illinois. He then returned to Baltimore to complete an emergency medicine residency training program at University of Maryland/Shock Trauma Center.

After graduating from residency, John moved with his family to California, where he began work on his first novel. Four years later, the manuscript was purchased by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. The Absence of Mercy was published in November of 2013. It received the National Black Ribbon Award in recognition of an author who brings a fresh voice to suspense writing.

John and his family currently live in the San Francisco Bay area where he works as an emergency department physician. He is also hard at work on his next novel.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Joanne at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.