This was more of a 3.5 star read for me, but I’m rounding up. I liked the story of Jacqi Garza, a young girl who had been abducted when she was eight and escaped within days. Instead of being treated as a hero, she’s shunned and her life goes into a downward spiral until we meet her as a runaway, semi-addicted teen. The mystery revolves around Jacqi’s secrets and who wants to keep them secret and why. Our hero is a world-weary lawyer-turned-PI who is asked to find Jacqui. He manages to let the teenager slip through his fingers, not just once, but four times! This is where I lost patience. The last time was definitely a Too Stupid to Live moment. Nevertheless, Jacqi, the cops, the PI and especially, the PI’s nurse-girlfriend, are all interesting, three-dimensional characters. The setting is a gritty working class town caught in a fiscal crisis, which adds an interesting angle not commonly seen in crime fiction.
Corbett is one of those authors who is more popular among his fellow writers than among readers. He’s definitely an accomplished stylist. However, I find his writing occasionally overwrought. The similes that seem poetic at first are nonsensical upon a second reading, for example, “time opened up like a wound and she slipped inside, taking comfort in the empty warmth.” Think about that. What crawls inside of open wounds? Maggots. Yuck! And what does “empty warmth” mean? I read this when I was correcting Comp 1 essays, so I guess my red pen is out. Don’t be dissuaded–The Mercy of the Night is a worthwhile read.