Eliza Blake is the host of the morning television show
“KEY to America.” She and her crew of investigative
reporters are known for their curiosity and ability to uncover
mysteries. Eliza has been invited to an exclusive and unusual party
at the home of her wealthy and well-known friends Valentina and
Innis Wheelock, who live in an upscale part of town called Tuxedo
Park. The party is designed to celebrate the feast of St. Francis
of Assisi, Innis’s favorite saint.
Towards the end of the evening, Innis is found dead in the
conservatory, the victim of an apparent suicide. But he
didn’t just kill himself; he used a most gruesome method to
end his life. He pierced his hands, his feet and his sides with a
knife, in the same spots Jesus’ body was pierced during the
crucifixion and in the same manner St. Francis of Assisi was
marked, in a pattern known as stigmata.
Before killing himself, Innis has a conversation with Eliza. He
tells her, “I’ve hurt many people, damaged them, ruined
them along the way. Now it’s too late to take those things
back.” When Eliza asks him what he means and why he’s
telling her this, he answers, “You care about right and
wrong. And, you’ll do what needs to be done.” Just a
few hours later, Innis’s lifeless body is discovered.
There’s apparently no murder to be solved as it is quite
clear he committed suicide. But what was the reason? Why did he
choose such an unusual method for doing so? And why did he tell
Eliza that she would “do what needs to be done”?
Innis was a great lover of puzzles, and enjoyed creating and
solving them. After his last visit to Rome, he had his house
completely remodeled in a markedly Roman style, with fountains,
porticos and an aviary added to enhance the Greek theme, and called
it Pentimento. Hidden in various locations throughout the house are
clues to the reason for his suicide. The first one is discovered
after a close inspection of the death scene.
As Eliza and her friends solve the puzzles, they find secrets to
Innis’s past that reveal more details about the tragedy. But
while they are doing this, the story then becomes a murder mystery,
as several people are killed by someone who is determined that the
truth never be revealed.
DYING FOR MERCY is the third book by Mary Jane Clark to feature
Eliza Blake as the lead character (the previous two are WHEN DAY
BREAKS and IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT). She wisely chooses the historic
setting of Tuxedo Park, New York, as the centerpiece for her latest
thriller --- and she knows of what she writes: “I grew up not
far from Tuxedo Park. As kids, we would drive by the entrance and I
wondered what was behind the security walls. I knew there was
wealth involved, but I didn’t know much else. Then, a
few years ago, I was invited to speak at a luncheon at the Tuxedo
Club. What I saw inside the park gates took my breath
In Tuxedo Park the rich and famous live side by side with the not
so rich and famous. Here you can find both ornate mansions and
modest houses, a clubhouse (to which many of the not so rich and
famous wish they belonged), a lake, and lonely countryside lanes.
Clark uses this landscape very effectively in her telling of the
story and in her characters’ unraveling of the clues.
DYING FOR MERCY is a well-researched and engrossing suspense
thriller bound to make numerous appearances on bestseller lists.
This was my first Eliza Blake novel, and I’m looking forward
to more adventures featuring this smart, tough protagonist.
Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on February 24, 2011