Mercy Street (Mercy Street Series #1)

Mercy Street (Mercy Street Series #1)

4.2 27
by Mariah Stewart

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From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes a novel of sexy romantic suspense for fans of Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, and Karen Robards.

Mariah Stewart crafts compelling stories of romantic suspense, full of richly imagined characters, dazzling plot twists, and breathless action that keeps the pages turning. Now Stewart begins a

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From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes a novel of sexy romantic suspense for fans of Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, and Karen Robards.

Mariah Stewart crafts compelling stories of romantic suspense, full of richly imagined characters, dazzling plot twists, and breathless action that keeps the pages turning. Now Stewart begins a thrilling new series–with a novel that proves to be her biggest and boldest yet.

On a balmy spring evening, four high school seniors–three boys and a girl–enter a park in the small Pennsylvania city of Conroy. The next morning, two of the boys are found shot to death, and the girl and the third boy are gone. After three weeks with no leads and no sign of either of the two missing teenagers, the chief of police begins to wonder if they too were victims. But with no other suspects, the authorities conclude that one of these kids was the shooter.

The missing boy’s grandmother, a secretary at the local parish church, maintains his innocence. On her behalf, the parish priest, Father Kevin Burch, hires former detective Mallory Russo as a private investigator to figure out what happened in the park that night. Mallory had ended her nine-year stint with the Conroy police force some time ago after becoming a target of a smear campaign. Now a true-crime author, Mallory is surprised to receive the priest’s offer–and highly intrigued by the case. She can’t help but accept the challenge–especially when she learns that her investigation will be financed by Father Burch’s cousin the reclusive billionaire Robert Magellan, a man whose own wife and infant son disappeared without a trace a year ago, a man who understands the heartache of not knowing what happened to a loved one.

Detective Charlie Wanamaker is facing another sort of tragedy. He fled Conroy years ago with no plans to return to what he considered a dying factory town–until a family emergency brought him back. Finding the situation much worse than he’d thought, he trades his job as a big-city detective for one with the Conroy police department. Assigned to the park shooting case, Charlie quickly realizes that the initial investigation left a lot of questions unanswered. Unofficially, he teams up with Mallory to uncover the truth and find the two kids, dead or alive. What Charlie and Mallory discover will take them down a twisted path that leads to an old unsolved murder–and justice for a killer with a heart of stone.

Mercy Street is tautly paced, resonant with emotion, and relentlessly gripping. It showcases Mariah Stewart at her most brilliant, as she ratchets up the suspense to new levels of excitement.

Praise for Mariah Stewart

“Mariah Stewart is one to watch and savor for a long time.”–The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Stewart can always be counted on to write an exciting romantic suspense thriller.”–

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This intriguing if somewhat bland first in a new romantic suspense series from bestseller Stewart (Last Breath) introduces two cool crime solvers, PI Mallory Russo, a former Conroy, Pa., cop, and Charlie Wanamaker, a former Philly detective who's returned to Conroy to help his alcoholic mother and his disabled sister. Despite bad experiences employing PIs, billionaire Robert Magellan, who's haunted by the disappearance of his wife and young son, hires Mallory to locate two missing teens, Courtney Bauer and Ryan Corcoran. The high school students vanished after a playground shooting that left two of their friends dead. The Conroy police suspect the pair were involved, but Mary Corcoran, Ryan's grandmother, and Linda Bauer, Courtney's mom, are sure of their innocence. Some readers may wish that the author had given more time on stage to a bad girl suspect, but all will cheer the appealing romance that develops between Mallory and Charlie. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Mercy Street Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


From the top of the jetty to the rocks below was roughly twelve feet, give or take. Not enough to break much more than a few limbs, the man standing at the far edge thought wryly. Hardly worth the jump.

Not for the first time, he wished he’d had the jetty built higher.

“Hey! Buddy! You there on the jetty!” a voice called from the beach. “That’s private property.”

The would-be jumper turned to see a man in an Irish knit sweater and jeans picking his way carefully across the rocks, headed straight for him. As he drew closer, the newcomer said, “Most people aren’t aware that the jetty is privately owned. I don’t know that the owner wants the liability of having people walking around out here.”

“You are.”

“I try to keep an eye on the place since the owner doesn’t seem to. We’re just across the street. Never met the guy who owns it. None of us has. Wouldn’t know him if I tripped over him. Realtor says he’s a real nice guy, though.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the house. “Imagine building a place like that and never moving in?”

He turned to look back at the house. “Then again, I guess it’s understandable. Guy who owns it lost his wife, his only child, too. Disappeared just like that.” He snapped his fingers. “Went off to a party or something and never came back.”

It was a baby shower. Her cousin’s baby shower.

“Yeah, I guess it’s something else inside,” he continued. “But when you consider who built it . . .” He stopped to watch his brown Lab chasing seagulls along the waterline, then resumed his chatter.

“You probably read about it. Robert Magellan, the gazillionaire? That’s his place. Built it for his wife, just before she went missing. Sad as hell, you know? I couldn’t imagine that, the wife and kid just, poof. Gone.”

Robert stared blankly as the man continued to babble.

He shook his head. “There was some talk early on that maybe he had a hand in it, but no one around here ever bought in to it. You don’t do something like that”—he pointed to the house—“as a surprise for someone you’re planning to get rid of. The money it must have cost aside, I heard he picked out everything himself, didn’t even use a decorator. That says something to me about the man, like it must have been real important to him that everything be just right for her, you know?”

“Yes, I know.”

“You must have heard about the guy. Hell, you’d have to have been on another planet not to have. The news coverage last year was nonstop for weeks after it happened. We couldn’t even park in front of our own house with all the news vans and gawkers. Some days we couldn’t even get into our own driveway.”

“That must have been a difficult time for all of you.”

“It was. It sure was. You have no idea what it was like. Of course, now all the neighbors are wondering what he’s going to do with it. We keep watching for a sale sign to go up. Every once in a while, I run into the Realtor—Janice Wilson, if you’re looking to buy a place down here.” He paused. “You looking to buy a place in Carlson’s Beach?”

“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do.”

“Check in with Janice, Beach Realty, right down there on Bay Avenue. Tell her Ben Miller sent you.”

“Maybe I’ll do that.”

The man whistled for his Lab, but the dog was more interested in the gulls. “Looks like I’m going to have to go after him. Nine years old and he’s still nothing but an overgrown pup. Guess I’d better catch up with him.” He laughed good-naturedly and took a leash from his back pocket, then looked back at Robert. “So you won’t be hanging around here, right? The police do patrol once in a while, try to keep people off the property. Since it is, like I said, private . . .”

“I’ll be moving on.”

“Okay, well, be careful up there,” Ben Miller called over his shoulder as he made his way down the rocks to the sand below. “It’s a long way down.”

Not long enough.

Robert Magellan watched the man and his frolicking dog until they disappeared over the dune. He took off his dark glasses, rubbed a hand over his face, and tried to decide if he was pleased to know his neighbors believed he’d had nothing to do with Beth and Ian’s disappearance, or pissed at the reminder that the investigation had once focused on him.

“Don’t take it personally,” Joe Drabyak—chief of police of Conroy, Pennsylvania, their hometown—had told him. “The spouse is always a suspect. Because usually, when a person goes missing, someone close to that person is the one who made them disappear.”

“You’re wasting time,” Robert had replied angrily. “While you’re sitting here trying to build a case against me, someone else has my wife. My son—”

“Let’s get one thing straight, Mr. Magellan.” Drabyak’s voice had gone ice cold. “I’m not trying to ‘build a case’ against anyone. I’m only trying to get to the truth. Right now, my only priority is to find your wife and your son and I couldn’t care less whose toes I step on to do it. Even yours. So I’ll be asking you questions and you’ll be answering them. Believe me, everyone is doing everything they can to locate your family. Every cop between here and Gibson Springs is looking for them, okay? Don’t think for a second that you’re the only person we’re talking to. They’re all looking out there, looking for your wife and your baby boy, but you are here, in my town, and that makes you mine, got it? Trust me, I’m not going to be the only one questioning you. The boys out in the western part of the state want to talk to you, the state wants to talk to you, and the FBI is waiting in the wings. The longer you and I play this game, the longer it will be before we get out of here, so let’s get on with this, shall we?”

Robert may not have liked it, but he couldn’t deny that the police had pulled out every stop to find Beth and the baby. Even he had to admit that the fact that they’d failed was no reflection on the effort. He’d personally witnessed Drabyak’s growing frustration that neither his force, the state police, the FBI, nor any of the private investigators Robert had hired had been able to pin down any real clues to his missing family.

How was it possible that a woman, a baby, and a Jeep Cherokee could disappear into thin air?

He glanced once more at the dark water swirling around the rocks below and pulled up the collar of his jacket. A brisk breeze blew in off the ocean, and clouds were starting to gather overhead. As the sky darkened, Robert walked back along the jetty toward the house. The man-made wall of rock extended along the entire line of his property on one side, gradually diminishing in height until it reached the road out front. He checked to make sure the outbuildings—the guesthouse, the garage, and the playhouse—were all securely locked before going up the back steps and into the main house.

He made his way through the silent rooms, trying not to think about the countless hours he’d spent designing this home. So many times, Robert had tried to imagine Beth’s reaction when he brought her here for the first time. He knew she would have loved the fact that he’d bought the weathered shingles from a house that had been demolished in Maine, and that he’d had a guesthouse specially designed where Beth’s sister, Pam, and her husband, Rick, and their children could stay. There was a walled yard where the kids could play safely, and a playhouse that Robert had sketched out for the architect, his own childhood fantasies come to life in clapboard and brick. The master bedroom in the magnificent main house had a balcony with an expansive view of the ocean where he and Beth could watch the sun rise over the water every morning.

He’d just about given up on the dream of sharing that view with her.

His plan today included a stop at the Realtor’s office to tell her he was putting the place on the market, but after having spent the better part of the afternoon here, he realized he wasn’t up to having that conversation today. Tomorrow he’d have Susanna, his assistant, call Janice Wilson and tell her he’d like her to handle the sale of 1217 Heron Place.

Robert walked through the empty rooms, his footsteps echoing on the hardwood floors, and reset the alarm before leaving by the front door just as the first fat drops of rain began to fall. Once outside, he turned the key in the lock and slipped it into his pocket for what he knew would be the last time.

The decision to sell had not been made easily. In Robert’s heart, it felt like a betrayal, because it meant he’d given up on ever seeing Beth and Ian again. But coming here was nothing short of torture for him. It was just one more reminder of that day when his entire world tilted and everything that mattered to him vanished.

“Fuck it,” he said aloud. “Just . . . fuck it.”

He turned his back on the house, got into his car, and drove home through the rain, the wipers slapping against the glass.

Hours later he found himself seated in his car, the engine turned off, in front of the wide iron gates outside his house. He had no recollection of having driven the five hours from the beach house near Stone Harbor, New Jersey, to his home in Conroy, Pennsylvania, and started to tune back in now only because he had to key in the code to open the gates. That morning, he’d taken the first of the cars that he’d come to when he walked outside. It was the only vehicle that didn’t have the remote for the gates built in.

See how easy it is for something like that to happen? he told himself as he tapped the numbers on the keypad. You take the wrong vehicle and it’s a minor inconvenience. Beth borrowed a car and we lost her forever.

Don’t say forever, a voice inside his head pleaded. Maybe it’s not forever . . .

He drove around to the back of his house and parked near the brick walk that led to the kitchen.

“Good. You beat the worst of the storm home.” Trula Comfort, Robert’s housekeeper and his late grandmother’s best friend, greeted him as he came in through the back door. “You look like you need something warm. I have fresh coffee made, just put the pot on for Father Kevin. He’s in the den. Been waiting for you for an hour or so. If you’d told me he was coming, I’d have planned one of his favorites for dinner.”

“I didn’t know he was coming,” Robert told her as he accepted the mug she held out to him. He stole a glance at it. bloom where you are planted was apparently the message of the day. “And what about having one of my favorites?”

“You’re here every day. Father Kevin hasn’t been here in two weeks.”

“So what you’re saying is I have to leave to get special treatment.”

“Well, dessert should make you both happy. I picked up some strawberries—the first of the season—from that nice young Amish couple who bought the Turners’ farm. You probably don’t remember the Turners—the family owned that land for, good Lord, must be a hundred years or so.” She fixed her gaze on him to let him know she was not oblivious to the fact that he was inching toward the door. “But now that you bring it up, a nice vacation away would do you good. Be a vacation for me, too, a few weeks without you around. And you could use a little color in your face. Here it is, almost summer, and you’re as pale now as you were in February.” Trula was winding up, Robert could feel it. If he didn’t move quickly, she’d be at full blast and he’d be stuck in here for way longer than he’d like.

“And I’ll probably be just as pale next month.”

“You make a joke, but you could use the vitamin D you get from the sun.”

“I thought those vitamins you make me take every day had lots of D in them.”

“There’s no pill that’s as good as getting it right from the source.” She pushed open the kitchen door and pointed down the hall in the general direction of the den. “Go, make sure Father Kevin doesn’t try to sneak out before dinner.”

“Yes, sir.” Robert followed the pointed finger.

“Funny man,” Trula muttered as he passed.

Robert opened the half-closed door to his den and stepped inside the large well-lit room.

“Trula wants you to stay for dinner,” he said by way of greeting.

“She already invited me,” Father Kevin Burch replied without looking up from the book he was engrossed in. “She tempted me with fresh sea bass. How could I say no?”

“I thought priests weren’t supposed to give in to temptation.” Robert took a chair near the windows opposite his cousin. It occurred to him that when either of them had something on his mind that he wanted to discuss, somehow they both always ended up here, in the den, in these chairs, facing each other.

“We’re also supposed to honor our elders.” Kevin smiled. “You know many people more elderly than Trula?”

“Good point.”

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Meet the Author

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three novels. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with her husband and their two daughters.

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Mercy Street (Mercy Street Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
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AlaskanReaderNN More than 1 year ago
Most excellent, hard to put down, read on my nook in 6 hours! Story kept moving! Am anxious to read the next two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
Book 1 in the Mercy Street Foundation series This romantic suspense novel is a refreshing interlude, a relief for those who have been reading more adrenaline based mysteries, Mariah Stewart style is lower keyed . This mystery is basic and not complicated to follow, it focuses mainly on homicides and missing person investigations and provides interesting moments that will grab you immediately, unfortunately it is somewhat predictable. The novel juggles three threads at the same time and intertwines smoothly: 1) The center of the mystery is Robert Magellan's missing family and the fact that he is haunted by the memory and relives the terrible day when Beth his wife and their baby son simply disappeared, never to be found. 2) On another tangent, investigators are left baffled when a simple outing to a local park turns tragic, two children are missing and two have had their young lives cut short. After weeks into the investigation, the only theory they have is, one of the missing kids is the possible shooter. The child's grandmother unable to accept what is happening turns to Father Kevin Burch. With the help and sympathy of philanthropist Robert Magellan they hire P.I. Mallory Russo to look into the matter. 3) It turns out the Conroy police force is already busy, they have a sniper on the hunt. The events present an seemingly insurmountable challenge to a small police force. P.I. Mallory Russo has a stroke of luck when she meets Charlie Wanamaker, a man with a dysfunctional family, who happens to be in transition from one police force to the Conroy force. They quickly bound and with their passion for justice they race to solve the mysteries. The chemistry they develop between themselves eventually reaches beyond their professionalism... The characters are quite likeable and easy to root for, a blooming romance between Mallory and Charlie is surely to be followed up in the next instalment, at least I expect it to be with the conclusion to what happened to Robert Magellan's family. The story was captivating but in time will not be one of my most memorable novels.
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I enjoyed this book immensely. It was not too hard to read, but not too easy. It had an interesting plot, and it moved along at just the right speed. There were a variety of characters, each dealing with different life issues which should connect with many readers. The author writes well. The story is good and the end fulfilling even if the very last bit is somewhat expected. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. This book is perfect for the woman looking for an escape into mystery.
StarfishTiger More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book today, and I loved it. I was just looking around my basement for something interesting to read and thought Mercy Street sounding interesting. Turns out, I was right. I definitely recommend this book to others who like suspense novels. After finishing this one, I immediately got online and purchased the next two in the series. Reading the preview for the second book has gotten me pretty excited!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read and great content. As it is a series I wished I had gotten all three before starting one so I could finish them. Last one due out in August and can't wait.
KarenKim More than 1 year ago
If you've read any of Mariah Stewart's other books and enjoyed them, you will enjoy this one as well. The Mercy Street Foundation was created to help find missing people - and the founder has an interesting and tragic story that will be discussed more in book two and I'm guessing book three. If you like mystery mixed with romance, then you will enjoy this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
There are several stories in Mercy Street. Billionaire Robert Magellan whose wife and son disappears, Mallory Russo, a good detective, set-up by jealous co-workers DET Charlie Wanamaker who returns to Conroy to help out his mother and sister, and in a city playground two teenaged boys are shot dead while two of their friends manage to escape the killer. All of the stories are interesting and all come to a resolution except Robert Magellan¿s. Mercy street reads like a lead-in to a series.