From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes a novel of sexy romantic suspense for fans of Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, and Karen Robards. Mariah Stewart crafts compelling stories of romantic suspense, full of richly imagined characters, dazzling plot twists, and breathless action that keeps the pages turning. Now Stewart begins a thrilling new series-with a novel that proves to be her biggest and boldest yet. On a balmy spring evening, four high school seniors-three boys and a girl-enter a park in the small Pennsylvania city of Conroy. The next morning, two of the boys are found shot to death, and the girl and the third boy are gone. After three weeks with no leads and no sign of either of the two missing teenagers, the chief of police begins to wonder if they too were victims. But with no other suspects, the authorities conclude that one of these kids was the shooter. The missing boy's grandmother, a secretary at the local parish church, maintains his innocence. On her behalf, the parish priest, Father Kevin Burch, hires former detective Mallory Russo as a private investigator to figure out what happened in the park that night. Mallory had ended her nine-year stint with the Conroy police force some time ago after becoming a target of a smear campaign. Now a true-crime author, Mallory is surprised to receive the priest's offer-and highly intrigued by the case. She can't help but accept the challenge-especially when she learns that her investigation will be financed by Father Burch's cousin the reclusive billionaire Robert Magellan, a man whose own wife and infant son disappeared without a trace a year ago, a man who understands the heartache of not knowing what happened to a loved one. Detective Charlie Wanamaker is facing another sort of tragedy. He fled Conroy years ago with no plans to return to what he considered a dying factory town-until a family emergency brought him back. Finding the situation much worse than he'd thought, he trades his job as a big-city detective for one with the Conroy police department. Assigned to the park shooting case, Charlie quickly realizes that the initial investigation left a lot of questions unanswered. Unofficially, he teams up with Mallory to uncover the truth and find the two kids, dead or alive. What Charlie and Mallory discover will take them down a twisted path that leads to an old unsolved murder-and justice for a killer with a heart of stone. Mercy Street is tautly paced, resonant with emotion, and relentlessly gripping. It showcases Mariah Stewart at her most brilliant, as she ratchets up the suspense to new levels of excitement. Praise for Mariah Stewart "Mariah Stewart is one to watch and savor for a long time."-The Philadelphia Inquirer "Stewart can always be counted on to write an exciting romantic suspense thriller."-TheBestReviews.com From the Hardcover edition.
This intriguing if somewhat bland first in a new romantic suspense series from bestseller Stewart (Last Breath) introduces two cool crime solvers, PI Mallory Russo, a former Conroy, Pa., cop, and Charlie Wanamaker, a former Philly detective who's returned to Conroy to help his alcoholic mother and his disabled sister. Despite bad experiences employing PIs, billionaire Robert Magellan, who's haunted by the disappearance of his wife and young son, hires Mallory to locate two missing teens, Courtney Bauer and Ryan Corcoran. The high school students vanished after a playground shooting that left two of their friends dead. The Conroy police suspect the pair were involved, but Mary Corcoran, Ryan's grandmother, and Linda Bauer, Courtney's mom, are sure of their innocence. Some readers may wish that the author had given more time on stage to a bad girl suspect, but all will cheer the appealing romance that develops between Mallory and Charlie. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart
From the top of the jetty to the rocks below was roughly twelve feet, give or take. Not enough to break much more than a few limbs, the man standing at the far edge thought wryly. Hardly worth the jump.
Not for the first time, he wished he'd had the jetty built higher.
"Hey! Buddy! You there on the jetty!" a voice called from the beach. "That's private property."
The would-be jumper turned to see a man in an Irish knit sweater and jeans picking his way carefully across the rocks, headed straight for him. As he drew closer, the newcomer said, "Most people aren't aware that the jetty is privately owned. I don't know that the owner wants the liability of having people walking around out here."
"I try to keep an eye on the place since the owner doesn't seem to. We're just across the street. Never met the guy who owns it. None of us has. Wouldn't know him if I tripped over him. Realtor says he's a real nice guy, though." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the house. "Imagine building a place like that and never moving in?"
He turned to look back at the house. "Then again, I guess it's understandable. Guy who owns it lost his wife, his only child, too. Disappeared just like that." He snapped his fingers. "Went off to a party or something and never came back."
It was a baby shower. Her cousin's baby shower.
"Yeah, I guess it's something else inside," he continued. "But when you consider who built it . . ." He stopped to watch his brown Lab chasing seagulls along the waterline, then resumed his chatter.
"You probably read about it. Robert Magellan, the gazillionaire? That's his place. Built it for his wife, just before she went missing. Sad as hell, you know? I couldn't imagine that, the wife and kid just, poof. Gone."
Robert stared blankly as the man continued to babble.
He shook his head. "There was some talk early on that maybe he had a hand in it, but no one around here ever bought in to it. You don't do something like that"--he pointed to the house--"as a surprise for someone you're planning to get rid of. The money it must have cost aside, I heard he picked out everything himself, didn't even use a decorator. That says something to me about the man, like it must have been real important to him that everything be just right for her, you know?"
"Yes, I know."
"You must have heard about the guy. Hell, you'd have to have been on another planet not to have. The news coverage last year was nonstop for weeks after it happened. We couldn't even park in front of our own house with all the news vans and gawkers. Some days we couldn't even get into our own driveway."
"That must have been a difficult time for all of you."
"It was. It sure was. You have no idea what it was like. Of course, now all the neighbors are wondering what he's going to do with it. We keep watching for a sale sign to go up. Every once in a while, I run into the Realtor--Janice Wilson, if you're looking to buy a place down here." He paused. "You looking to buy a place in Carlson's Beach?"
"I haven't decided what I'm going to do."
"Check in with Janice, Beach Realty, right down there on Bay Avenue. Tell her Ben Miller sent you."
"Maybe I'll do that."
The man whistled for his Lab, but the dog was more interested in the gulls. "Looks like I'm going to have to go after him. Nine years old and he's still nothing but an overgrown pup. Guess I'd better catch up with him." He laughed good-naturedly and took a leash from his back pocket, then looked back at Robert. "So you won't be hanging around here, right? The police do patrol once in a while, try to keep people off the property. Since it is, like I said, private . . ."
"I'll be moving on."
"Okay, well, be careful up there," Ben Miller called over his shoulder as he made his way down the rocks to the sand below. "It's a long way down."
Not long enough.
Robert Magellan watched the man and his frolicking dog until they disappeared over the dune. He took off his dark glasses, rubbed a hand over his face, and tried to decide if he was pleased to know his neighbors believed he'd had nothing to do with Beth and Ian's disappearance, or pissed at the reminder that the investigation had once focused on him.
"Don't take it personally," Joe Drabyak--chief of police of Conroy, Pennsylvania, their hometown--had told him. "The spouse is always a suspect. Because usually, when a person goes missing, someone close to that person is the one who made them disappear."
"You're wasting time," Robert had replied angrily. "While you're sitting here trying to build a case against me, someone else has my wife. My son--"
"Let's get one thing straight, Mr. Magellan." Drabyak's voice had gone ice cold. "I'm not trying to 'build a case' against anyone. I'm only trying to get to the truth. Right now, my only priority is to find your wife and your son and I couldn't care less whose toes I step on to do it. Even yours. So I'll be asking you questions and you'll be answering them