“Mercy River” is book four in Glen Erik Hamilton’s “Van Shaw” series. New readers will easily follow along because Hamilton includes any needed background as part of the current scenario. The story is presented as a first-person narrative by Donovan Shaw, former Ranger, former husband, and always friend. Readers learn about Shaw through his actions and reactions. He is concerned, helpful, devoted, prepared, and has untraceable guns. Readers know what he thinks, where he goes, what he fears, and what he wants. His present is molded by his past. “I can’t lead a regular life. Maybe I might have once, and maybe someday the chance will come around again. But it’s not who I am now.” Then a phone call changes everything; it calls him to action.
“Leo was breathing heavily, his voice strained. There was a sound of quick movement before he spoke again. “They’re coming. I can’t make it.” … “This is the Mercy River police, who is this on the line?”
A complex cast of secretive citizens and visiting soldiers drives the plot. Each player is fully developed and intricate, with varied feelings, plans, and fears. Readers also get to know people through Hamilton’s precise descriptions.
“Her long blond hair was pulled back and held with a carved wooden comb. She wore a wine-colored coat, buttoned up against the autumn chill, Luce’s eyes could be the shade of rain clouds at times, but tonight, under the pale light of the streetlamps, they were the blue sky above the storm.”
Hamilton sets the stage with scenic images. “The town of Mercy River lay in a haphazard jumble in the crease between two colliding hill ranges, as if its buildings and houses had been scattered across the land like big handfuls of dice, most of them tumbling to rest on the floor of the valley, with a few dozen strays left on the slopes above.”
The plot is fast moving, intense, and at times violent. There is much more going on than just a Ranger Rendezvous, and some players are not who they seem to be at first glance. An unseen enemy lurks in the dark, and local law enforcement does not want any help from an outsider, especially not from Shaw who has never really been much of a “people” person.
There is some offbeat humor amid the chaos.
“That’s Daryll’s deer rifle,” Fain said as I set the leather carrying case on the table. “Where did you get that?” “From his room”…“A good choice if you’re defending covered wagons.”
“Mercy River” is a tale of drama, destruction, and death. The pace is fast; the action is unexpected, and the tension is relentless. I was given a review copy of “Mercy River” by Glen Erik Hamilton, William Morrow, and Harper Collins. In the end, it is a saga of loyalty and justice, and hard to put down.