Review

No Mercy

by John Gilstrap

A horrific kidnapping goes bad. With James Bond-like
eavesdropping gizmos, Jonathan Grave correctly interprets that
“The tone and pace of the kidnappers’ argument told him
that their frustration level had passed the tipping point into
desperation. He moved faster.” Trying to save college-age
hostage Thomas, male empathy spurs him on. He sends the two
kidnappers to his namesake with a single marksman’s shot
through each black heart and, for good measure, midline forehead.
The appearance of a third kidnapper, Thomas’s girlfriend,
ratchets up the suspense when Grave takes her out. Thomas’s
father creates a chemical warfare synthetic smallpox virus known as
GVX, “germ juice,” as Grave calls it. The kidnapping is
not only for ransom money, but for the GVX. The Green Brigade tries
to get the WMD to sell to America’s enemies for funds to
destroy America’s political system. Anarchy is not cheap.

Following the bestseller AT ALL COSTS, John Gilstrap introduces
Jonathan Grave, a freelance covert rescue operations specialist who
thumbs his nose at laws mere mortals have to obey. Grave shows no
mercy with kidnappers --- or victims, if they question his
Rambo-like tactics. Grave could be the twin of Iris
Johansen’s character John Garrett in DEADLOCK, only Grave is
far more complex.

Gail Bonneville comes under harsh scrutiny by buying an old
mansion for $550,000 on a small salary, though the money was
inherited. She takes a law enforcement step down, to be sheriff of
Samson, Indiana. “The best part of investigative work, Gail
thought --- and the part she missed most about the go-go life of
the FBI --- was the way a crime scene could tell a story.”
Grave covers his tracks like a 10-year-old grave, with no trace
that anything has been disturbed --- unless he leaves clues to
mislead. He messes with minds like hallucinogenic drugs. Gail
differs with Grave between doing things by the book and doing
what’s right. She wants by-the-book decorum, while he wants
to set things straight. Gail resembles Carol
O’Connell’s character Mallory, both dedicated to law
enforcement, with more scruples than Judith Krantz.

Grave is a friend and client of FBI director Irene Rivers,
covertly known as Wolverine and disrespectfully as “dragon
lady.” Irene leans on Gail like italics, when Gail
investigates Grave’s kidnapper massacre. Thinly veiled
threats from Indiana’s governor and an FBI director who
flat-out tells the small-town sheriff to drop the investigation
spur Gail on, to prove that Grave killed the kidnappers. Foolish
power figures! Ever hear of reverse psychology? The threats prove
to Gail that Grave is guilty and has connections, especially when
Grave has authentic FBI credentials as Leon Harris.

Grave has Army training to thank for paramilitary missions,
which make philanthropy possible, but he relishes luxuries. To peel
off horrors seen at war, “Jonathan liked his showers hot. Not
tepid, not luke-anything. Hot. He’d spent too many years
shivering through dribbling cold-water freeze fests. Now he was a
civilian, he was rich, and he had enough water pressure to strip
the red off a brick wall.”

Occasionally, the human side of Grave shows through the
battle-scarred features. Simon Gravenow’s son says, “He
was my father, not my dad. There’s a
difference.” Grave doesn’t want to share the same name
with the man incarcerated more years than Bernie Madoff for being a
racketeer with the “Dixie Mafia.” Grave is a
philanthropist, but work is work. The mansion he inherits from his
father --- not dad --- is donated to St.
Katherine’s, with the stipulation “that the property be
used in perpetuity as Resurrection House, a school for children of
incarcerated parents. Mama Alexander would live in the mansion for
the rest of her life” along with Grave’s confidant,
Venice Alexander. “It’s pronounced Ven-EE-chay, by the
way. Everybody got it wrong the first time, but second mistakes
were not suffered kindly.”

More than an action-packed suspense thriller, NO MERCY borders
on philosophy. Later to become an eco-terrorist group with anarchy
aspirations, a former Green Brigade eco advocate says,
“‘He’s got this one speech about how Paul Revere
and the Boston Tea Party guys were the first terrorists and that
patriotism and terrorism are all in the eye of the beholder. It
makes sense when you first hear it, you know? I mean, if you were a
Nazi in France in dubya-dubya two, you’re not gonna see the
French Resistance as freedom fighters, you’re gonna see them
as terrorists, right?’ Jonathan had walked that line of
reasoning a thousand times, as had every military
warrior.”

A Waco-like war is launched. Bullets fly, almost as fast as
pages being turned. Rich text, a solid forensics structure and a
meteor-paced plot make NO MERCY show its title, until you’ve
read the last page of complex, Alfred Hitchcock-like suspense,
intrigue and nightmare-generating scenes.

No Mercy
by John Gilstrap

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786020873
  • ISBN-13: 9780786020874