Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Dr. Julie Devereux is an outspoken advocate for the right to die–until a motorcycle accident leaves her fiancé, Sam Talbot, a quadriplegic. Sam begs to end of his life, but Julie sees hope in a life together. With the help of an organization that opposes physician-assisted suicide, Julie has Sam coming around to her point of view when he suddenly dies from an unexpected heart attack.An autopsy reveals that Sam died of an unusual heart defect, one seen only in those under extreme stress–in fact, it appears that Sam had been literally scared to death.
As Julie investigates similar cases, she finds a frightening pattern…and finds herself the target of disturbing threats. The more cases Julie discovers, the more the threats escalate, until she is accused of a mercy killing of her own. To clear her name and save her career, she must track down whoever is behind these mysterious deaths…but time is running out as someone has decided that killing Julie is the only way to stop her.
Michael Palmer in my mind was the king of medical thrillers and although he passed away in 2013, his equally talented son Daniel has continued his work alongside writing his own suspense novels. Mercy is an almost perfect medical thriller that takes a thorough look at physician-assisted suicide, while not taking any sides. It’s such a complex issue and there are compelling arguments made on both sides in this book. At the same time, the authors also examine the darker side of hospitals; reminding readers that they are businesses and as such, walk a thin line between profit margins and patient care. Both of the Palmers are brilliant at creating characters readers can relate to, and that’s certainly the case here. At the beginning of the story Julie is an outspoken advocate of a patient’s right to die, but after her fiancé Sam is injured so horribly in a motorcycle accident, and she sees that quadriplegics can lead fruitful lives thanks to new therapies and technology, her beliefs change. You can see how she struggles with passing that faith and hope on to Sam. Just as he’s showing signs of being willing to fight, he dies from a mysterious heart attack. From here, the story goes into full-fledged conspiracy mode with many different characters getting involved and except for a couple of them, it’s unclear who Julie should trust. This is another thing I liked about her; while she’s careful about who she brings into her inner circle, neither does she stupidly try to go it alone. She’s smart, and resourceful, and while she makes a few mistakes, they’re perfectly understandable given the circumstances. There are many twists and turns before the exciting conclusion which makes this near impossible to put down. The only criticism I have is that for about the first 1/4 of the book there’s a lot of medical terminology and it slows down the pace of the book somewhat. While I fully expected some as this is a medical thriller, this was a little much. But once you get past that the pace picks up and never slows down. Mercy is a fantastic read for both fans of the Palmers as well as readers who might be new to their novels. If you decide to try this, I recommend you pick a time when your schedule isn’t too busy because you’re not going to want to put it down!