Police officer Ellery Hathaway and FBI profiler Reed Markham take on two difficult new cases in this stunning follow-up to The Vanishing Season.
"A gripping and powerful read. It is what we call an edge-of-your-seat, rollercoaster of a thriller. You will not be able to put it down before you finish it."The Washington Book Review on The Vanishing Season
No Mercy is award-winning author Joanna Schaffhausen’s heart-pounding second novel.
Police officer Ellery Hathaway is on involuntary leave from her job because she shot a murderer in cold blood and refuses to apologize for it. Forced into group therapy for victims of violent crime, Ellery immediately finds higher priorities than “getting in touch with her feelings.”
For one, she suspects a fellow group member may have helped to convict the wrong man for a deadly arson incident years ago. For another, Ellery finds herself in the desperate clutches of a woman who survived a brutal rape. He is still out there, this man with the Spider-Man-like ability to climb through bedroom windows, and his victim beseeches Ellery for help in capturing her attacker.
Ellery seeks advice from her friend, FBI profiler Reed Markham, who liberated her from a killer’s closet when she was a child. Reed remains drawn to this unpredictable woman, the one he rescued but couldn’t quite save. The trouble is, Reed is up for a potential big promotion, and his boss has just one condition for the new jobstay away from Ellery. Ellery ignores all the warnings. Instead, she starts digging around in everyone’s past but her owna move that, at best, could put her out of work permanently, and at worst, could put her in the city morgue.
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You kill one guy, one time, and suddenly everyone thinks you need therapy, Ellery Hathaway thought as she stood in the biting wind of the subway T platform overlooking the icy Charles River. Doesn't matter if everyone is glad he's dead. She debated again whether to follow through on her shrink's orders to show up at the group meeting for survivors of violent crime. "You want to get your job back, yes?" Her court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Sunny Soon, had kept her tone pleasant with the question, but the underlying threat was plain. Ellery shoved her hands in her pockets and turned her collar up against the cold and the curious gaze of the passing commuters as she headed for the long escalator down to the street. Her face had been on TV for weeks over the summer as the public tried to render a verdict on whether she was more of a victim or a killer. The man she'd shot would be devastated to know he'd been nearly written out of the conversation — the viewers only ever wanted more of Francis Coben and Ellery, the girl who got away.
On crisp fall days, the T station for Massachusetts General Hospital boasted one of the loveliest views in Boston, with the city skyscrapers on one side and the MIT buildings on the other. Trees and boat docks lined the banks, wending back and forth along with the river's curve. Today, however, everything was the same washed-out gray, from the polluted melting snow to the naked tree branches scratching overhead at the gloomy sky.
Ellery noted with some irony that this supposed survivors' group met inside a hospital, like the victims had all been infected somehow. Like violence was a virus. Then she remembered how she'd landed there herself, and considered maybe it was true.
"You should come to the group sessions because there's someone I want you to meet," Dr. Sunny had said. "I think you'll have a lot in common."
Ellery had tried not to roll her eyes at this idea. "No offense," she'd told Dr. Sunny. "But I really don't think that's possible."
"It can be helpful to talk to other people who are walking your same path," Dr. Sunny had countered, but Ellery knew all crimes were not created equal. There was getting mugged on the street, and then there was surviving an abduction by one of the world's most infamous serial killers. Ellery wondered if any of these other people had had their perp show up as an answer on Final Jeopardy!
She edged carefully around a murky puddle and jaywalked with the crowd across the street toward the hospital. Officially winter wasn't supposed to arrive for a few more weeks, but it had crashed the party early, blowing the doors off the city with howling winds and a foot of heavy snow. Ellery embraced the icy landscape, because a frozen world suited her just fine. Frozen was the crunch of snow under your boot and the glint of icicles on crystal-coated trees. It was clean and unspoiled and beautiful. The problem, Ellery thought as she trudged through the slushy streets of Boston, is the thaw.
She reached the glass doors and the forced-air heat hit her like a wall as she stepped inside the hospital. She unwound her scarf and went down the hall in search of the appointed therapy room. The police brass holding her job hostage could make her go to these stupid sessions, but they couldn't make her cooperate. Talking is pointless, she'd told Dr. Sunny at their first meeting. It doesn't change the facts. Ellery could ramble on until she was blue in the face and it wouldn't bring back any of the girls Coben had killed; nothing she could say now would keep her off the Chicago streets the night she'd turned fourteen years old. Nothing would change what had happened in Woodbury last summer.
She found the meeting room without any trouble. It was in the basement of one of the older buildings, and the scuffed-up linoleum floor and lone, crankshaft window reminded her of an elementary school classroom. The circle of chairs and blank whiteboard added to the effect, although the table at the back of the room appeared to have a hot plate with coffee on it. Dr. Sunny looked up from her notes with a pleased expression. "Ellery, welcome. I'm glad you could make it."
The others turned to look, too. Ellery glanced around at all of them in turn, curious about which person Dr. Sunny wanted her to meet. There was a tall, slim, African-American man wearing a conservative pullover sweater and Malcolm X–style glasses; a heavyset older white guy with shaggy graying hair and worn-out work boots; a couple of women, one Hispanic perhaps about Ellery's age who sported a shaved head and — Ellery squinted — a neck tattoo? The other woman looked like an average Boston suburban housewife: white, plump but not overweight, with soft hands, a tired perm, and a Target sweatshirt that did not match the designer handbag at her feet. They were all strangers to Ellery, but she found they were regarding her with recognition or expectation, as if her arrival had been scripted. She felt her face go hot and wondered if Dr. Sunny had told them her story, irritation flashing through her because she was at a disadvantage now, knowing nothing about them. Then she remembered they would have to have lived under a rock the past few months not to know who she was — which was why it was so stupid to have her come in the first place. Try being raped and then watching Hollywood make a movie about it, she told them silently. Where's the group for that?
Ellery crossed the room with her head down, making a beeline for the coffee table. She didn't actually like coffee but at least it would give her something to do with her hands. Her fingers had become clumsy from the force of her embarrassment, and she had difficulty getting a single paper cup free from the stack.
"Let me get that for you." Ellery glanced up to find the black guy standing next to her, holding his own cup of steaming coffee, which he set aside to assist her. He had the coffee poured before she could object.
"Thanks," she said, careful not to touch him as they made the exchange.
"Happy to help. My name is Miles, by the way."
"Ellery," she replied with a short nod. She wondered if she was supposed to ask what brought him to the group, or if it was off-limits, like asking a con in prison, So, what are you in for? She said nothing and instead set about adding cream to her coffee, filling it to the very brim, after which she added four straight packets of sugar.
Miles gave a low whistle. "I take it you don't really like coffee," he said with a smile. "You could set that outside in the snow right now and it'd turn straight into ice cream."
"Then maybe I would eat it," Ellery admitted. She took a sip and made a face.
Miles chuckled and sipped his own coffee. "It's not good enough to force it," he advised her. "This here is your very basic cup of joe."
"It all tastes like dirt to me."
"Hmm." He scratched at his chin thoughtfully and she looked him over for scars. She saw no obvious marks on him and became more intrigued for his story. "I suppose the java beans come from dirt," he said. "Like we all came from dirt — and one day we'll go back into the ground all together." He lifted his paper cup in mock salute. "To the cycle of life."
She raised her cup in solidarity, enjoying the morbid slant on the discussion. So far this was easier than she had expected, and she hoped that Miles was the one she was supposed to talk to so that she wouldn't have to make direct conversation with any of the others. "Have you, uh, have you been coming here long?" she asked, thinking he might volunteer something that hinted at a Dr. Sunny–arranged meeting. After all, he had been the one to approach her.
"About a year," he said soberly. "That's actually what I want to talk about today."
Miles didn't get a chance to say anything further because the door opened across the room and two people entered: an old woman in a wheelchair and an old man pushing behind her. They both wore hats — his, a tweed newsboy-style cap, and hers, a colorful knit that looked like it might be homemade. "That's Myra," Miles explained in a low voice as the old man helped the woman off with her coat. "She's been coming here the longest of any of us."
Even from a distance, Ellery could see that this woman had not emerged unscathed from whatever her ordeal was. Her facial features did not line up correctly, and the skin color on the right side did not match the color of the left. Burned, Ellery realized with a start. She's been burned.
"I think we're all here now, so let's get started," Dr. Sunny said, and Ellery chose a seat next to Miles. "We have a new face with us today, as I'm sure you've noticed. Ellery, would you like to say anything to the group?"
Ellery shook her head and slouched farther in her seat.
"That's quite all right," Dr. Sunny replied easily. "You are welcome to just listen, but of course feel free to join in the conversation if you would like. Everyone else, let's please go around the room and introduce ourselves to Ellery."
It was like circle time in kindergarten, Ellery thought as they all complied with Dr. Sunny's request. Miles went first. The shaggy-haired guy was Alex. Wendy was the one with the shaved head, and the housewife was called Tabitha. Myra volunteered her name with a smile, and Ellery noticed that the old guy who had pushed her in, presumably her husband, had not stuck around. "So you may remember that Miles asked us to talk about anniversaries this week," Dr. Sunny said. "Miles, would you like to start the conversation?"
Beside Ellery, Miles took a deep breath and leaned forward slightly in his seat. "Yeah, okay. I've got the one-year anniversary coming up. The crash was December eighteenth. I think on some level I've been trying to prepare for it all year long. How would I feel? How was I going to handle it when the calendar flipped over to December? I'm supposed to be in school teaching that day. Which is better — stay home and take the day for myself or go in and let the kids distract me? Like, maybe if I make a good enough plan I can get through the day without feeling destroyed."
The housewife, Tabitha, snorted. "Good luck," she said, and crossed her legs.
"Feeling destroyed," Dr. Sunny said. "What would that be for you? What do you think would happen?"
Miles was silent for a moment and then shook his head slowly. "Like before. Like right after Letitia died. I lay in bed in the dark, acting like I was dead, too. Maybe I was hoping I could be. Like if I faked it good enough, the Lord would take me with her."
Ellery looked hard at the floor and held very still. She remembered that feeling, lying on the closet floor in her own blood, praying God would kill her so Coben wouldn't do it himself. She wished suddenly that Miles would stop talking, but he continued.
"We can all tell since I'm sittin' here that it didn't work out that way," he said wryly. "Those kids at school needed me, so I got up one day and I just kept on getting up every day after that. Now it turns out it's almost a year later and I can't quite believe it's happened. This big chunk of rock has traveled all the way around the sun again with me here on it and Letitia gone. Makes me want to be Superman — pushing it back and back and back until we get to the place where we turned down Harvard Street and Ed Kleinfeldt came roaring through the intersection, high as a kite in July."
"That bastard," Tabitha muttered. "The drunks, they always walk away without even a scratch."
"He got taken to the hospital," Miles replied absently. "Probably for detox."
"He gets out pretty soon, doesn't he?" the man called Alex wanted to know.
"Next spring if he makes parole. That's what the lawyers told me. Five years, out in less than one-and-a-half. But don't worry: he's real sorry he killed her."
"Bastard," Tabitha said again. "How long before he's loaded up and behind the wheel of another car?"
"I think we're getting off course a bit," Dr. Sunny interrupted. "Miles wanted to talk about how to handle the anniversary of his wife's death — isn't that right?"
Miles nodded and sat back in his seat. "The thing is, I was prepared to be freaked by the date on the calendar. I didn't expect the rest of it."
"What do you mean?" Dr. Sunny asked.
"It's all the same," he answered, gesturing vaguely around him. "The tinsel decorations on the streetlights. The smell of frost in the air. It was so cold that night. But clear, you know? You could see the stars. Letitia put Christmas music on the radio, like she always did starting in about mid-November. It was playing 'Jingle Bell Rock' when those headlights came right out of nowhere. Now ... now when I try to cross a street in the dark, I see headlights and I flinch. I hear Christmas songs and they make me want to cry. Ed Kleinfeldt didn't just take Tetia from me: he took the snow and the music and the pine trees and every little reminder, because it's all tied up together."
Ellery forced down a swallow of coffee to clear the lump in her throat. For her, it was the summer, especially when it got so hot the concrete remained warm even after dark. The smell of her own sweat. The sight of a girl riding a bicycle always made her cold inside.
"I know what you mean," Alex said. "Nate and I weren't even supposed to be in the store when it got hit. We were just walking by and he said, 'Let's go in a sec. I want a Snickers.' We were only going to be there like maybe two minutes. Only two minutes later, he's lying on the ground, shot to the gut. It's been three years and I still can't friggin' stand the sight of Snickers."
"What did you do on the anniversary of the first year?" Dr. Sunny asked him. "What got you through the day?"
Alex grinned and Ellery saw he was missing a couple of teeth. "Jim Beam and ESPN." Then he faltered, his grin slipping away. "Nate hated ESPN."
"Let's talk about other strategies people have used to deal with tough anniversaries," Dr. Sunny suggested smoothly.
Ellery tuned out the resulting chatter because she became aware that the young woman with the shaved head, Wendy, was staring at her. When Ellery turned to look, Wendy glanced away in chagrin, as if she'd been caught with too many items in the express lane at the supermarket. Ellery wondered again whom she was supposed to meet at this gathering, and if Wendy could be the one. The others had all spoken during the session but Wendy hadn't said a word after introducing herself. She sat with one leg drawn up defensively on the chair in front of her. From this angle, Ellery could see that the neck tattoo read NO MERCY.
Privately, Ellery agreed with the sentiment. Take down the monster when you have a clean shot because you might not get a second one. This philosophy had landed her in hot water now, but she felt confident it would blow over eventually. Her crimes were small compared to those of the man she'd killed.
When the meeting broke up, Ellery cast a dubious look around at the other group members, men and women with their own small crimes. She edged closer to where Dr. Sunny was putting some papers away in her briefcase. "So who is it?" Ellery asked her. "Who's the one I'm supposed to meet?"
To Ellery's surprise, Dr. Sunny waved over the old woman in the wheelchair. "Ellery, meet Myra. Myra, this is Ellery. The two of you have something in common."
I can't imagine what, Ellery thought as she appraised the other woman up close.
Myra extended a gnarled hand that was covered on one side with bald, shiny skin — too tight to match the rest of her softly aging physique — and that's when Ellery realized the woman had been burned across more than just her face. "Pleased to make your acquaintance," Myra said in a hoarse voice. She tried to smile but the scorched half of her face wouldn't cooperate, so the result was akin to a grimace.
Ellery gave the woman's hand a perfunctory shake and then stepped backward again, shoving her hands in the pockets of her coat, lest she show off her own scars. "What is it we have in common?"
Ellery asked the question of Dr. Sunny, but it was Myra who answered. "I read about you in the paper," Myra said, looking up at her. "I read what happened with Francis Coben."
"Yeah?" Ellery glanced at the door, wondering if it was too soon to make her good-byes and escape back to the solitude of her apartment.
"You were the one who lived," Myra continued. "So was I."
Ellery swiveled her head around and regarded the woman with new eyes. "What did you say?"
"Myra received a lot of unwanted media attention as a result of what happened to her," Dr. Sunny explained as she took up her briefcase to leave. "I know the scrutiny is new for you, but she lived with it for years. Perhaps she has some advice."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "No Mercy"
Copyright © 2019 Joanna Schaffhausen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The second in a series and this is one of those typical mystery series where each "case" is self contained in each book, but there is character development of the main characters from book to book. So I suggest starting with book one, but you can skip to book two if you wish. Ellery Hathaway is on leave due to the ending of book one. She is attending mandated therapy and group therapy and while at group therapy she inserts herself into a current investigation and one from the past that maybe a little different then what people think. The FBI profiler, Reed Markham, is back from book one and I love the way the author brings him back and the dynamics they have in this book.
No Mercy is a mystery/thriller and the second book in The Ellery Hathaway Series. I really enjoy both books in this series however, No Mercy is my favorite so far. Police officer Ellery Hathaway survived being brutalized by a serial killer when she was a teenager (this isn’t a spoiler because it’s revealed at the beginning of the series). She was saved by Reed Markam, an FBI profiler many moons earlier. Currently Ellery is on leave from work and trying to get in touch with her feelings in an attempt to find some sense of normalcy, so she attends a support group at the urging of a doctor. At the support group she finds herself engulfed in unsolved criminal acts that she wants to help specific individuals put to a close. Putting herself in danger in true Ellery style, this fast-paced, psychological thriller will have you turning pages faster than your hands will allow. I love this series however No Mercy is written so well that although this is the second book in the series it can be read alone. Great engrossing, and unique, plot that boasted well-developed flawed characters that you’ll enjoy getting to know. Can't wait to read the next book in The Ellery Hathaway Series. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen is Book 2 of a series but works well on its own due to the helpful hints given throughout. Ellery Hathaway is on leave from her Boston police job because she shot and killed a murderer and she must be aprroved for return to work by her psychologist. While attending her group of victims of violent crimes, she becomes embroiled in the troubles of two of its members: one woman may have been party to the wrongful conviction of a man accused of arson 25 years ago and another woman needs Ellery to help capture and convict her violent rapist. Ellery seeks help from her friend FBI profiler Reed Markham, thereby getting both of them in hot water with their employers. The two storylines work well together and set a fast pace in the development of the novel. The Vanishing Season is Book 1 in the series and I look forward to reading it and any upcoming books by Joanna Schaffhausen. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Bring On Book #3! Second in her mystery crime series, NO MERCY, Joanna Schaffhausen brings back the tough-skinned Officer Ellery Hathaway and FBI profiler Reed Markham....as well as Speed Bump the dog. Everyone knows Ellery....or at least the story of her well publicized and disturbing past, but for now she is supposedly off the streets, suspended for shooting a murderer and being "shrinked up" along with a group of others who have experienced violent crime. But Ellie's quick-witted investigative mind is always set on overdrive so as she judiciously meets her new groupies, she ends up deeply involved in two old cases that require the help of an old friend....an FBI agent friend with a mysterious and complicated past of his own....a friend she must tread cautiously around....a friend who knows the horrors of her past and just may win her heart....or not. A complex plot makes for a intriguing story, but highly recommend reading THE VANISHING SEASON first to enhance your reading experience. Many thanks to Minotaur Books/St. Martin's Press via NetGalley for the arc in exchange for an unbiased review.
I enjoyed reading The Vanishing Season and was looking forward to reading No Mercy when I saw book two in this series was coming out. I was not disappointed. No Mercy leaves off months after the events from The Vanishing Season. Ellery finds herself in some hot water over killing a man…a man who was a dangerous killer, but still. No matter the reason, she is required to do group therapy if she wants to get her job back. If talking about her past won’t change the outcome, is there even a reason for her to go? Maybe there is more to this mandated therapy then she first assumes. Especially when during one of Ellery’s meetings, she becomes intrigued by the stories of a couple of the attendees. It’s not long before she becomes entangled in not one, but two mysteries surrounding two of those people. I liked the pace of the story. Nothing felt rushed or drawn out. Once again, I enjoyed getting to uncover additional layers of Ellery’s character. Though she frustrated me more than once when she continued to take matters into her own hands and act like she was unstoppable. I can understand the need to help someone especially when you feel like no one else is listening to the victim and justice needs to be served, but Ellery continually put her well-being at risk when she should have just let the cops handle it. Of course, if she had done that, there wouldn’t have been much of a story for Ellery to involve herself in. I also liked the possibility of a slow burning romance between Ellery and Reid that lingered just beneath the surface of this story. Like the previous book, the mystery was not an easily guessed one and I had fun attempting to figure out who the bad person was. **Even though I received this book on behalf of the Publisher, the thoughts & opinions expressed are solely my own.**
“You kill one guy, one time, and suddenly everyone thinks you need therapy…” How’s that for an opener? No Mercy started with this gem, and I was hooked from there! How could you not be with that line? Ok, let’s back up a bit. No Mercy is the second book in the Ellery Hathaway series, which follows a Boston cop on involuntary leave after shooting a criminal and killing him. She also happens to be the survivor of an abduction by a serial killer when she was a child, and was rescued by FBI agent Reed Markham. It should be noted that I have not read book 1 (Vanishing Season) as of yet, and I did not feel left out of anything in this book, it stands alone very well. As a condition of her leave, Ellery is forced into group therapy for victims of violent crime, and of course, she finds a couple of cases where her detective skills would be of better use than discussing her feelings and such. She needs the help of Reed Markham, obvi, and I really enjoyed the dynamic of these two. Also, her dog Speed Bump, was great in so many ways, I was very happy he played a large role in this book. And that name? LOVE. The pacing was good, I was able to get through it in a couple of sittings. It was a little predictable but still very enjoyable. With the two cases going on there was plenty to keep me interested and entertained. I definitely recommend this although I do caution those with sensitivity to sexual assault / child abuse triggers. The book ends on a cliffhanger which was fabulous and annoying only in that now I am going to have to wait a bit for the next book. HA! In the meantime I will go back for sure and read The Vanishing Season. Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic ARC to review. All opinions above are my own. Pub date is 1/15/19.
I did not read the first book in this series, but the author mentioned enough about what had happened in the past so I felt very comfortable not having read it. Ellery is on leave from her police department in Boston and Reed Markham is with the FBI in another state. Reed comes to Boston and together they try to solve a string of rapes and an old arson case. There was a lot of action in this book along with some twists and I really enjoyed it. It definitely is a page turner. I am looking forward to going back and reading the first book and I can't wait until the next book in this series comes out. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this really good book in exchange for an honest review.
The second book in the Ellery Hathaway series is just as compelling as the first book in the series. Although it can be read as a standalone, I recommend that you read the first book in the series, THE VANISHING SEASON, first so that you understand the innuendoes in the relationship between Ellery and Reed. Ellery is a strong, independent woman who has set her course in life despite many obstacles, so she is a very likable character. I really enjoyed the story of the arsonist and the serial rapist and how Reed and Ellery joined together to find the perpetrator. The dog Bump is a recurring character and is just as amusing as previously. I highly recommend this book for all readers of mystery and suspense! Disclaimer Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Content warnings include sexual assault and family violence. I fell in love with Bump immediately in ‘The Vanishing Season’ and now he’s back, shedding fur throughout the pages of ‘No Mercy’. Ellery and Reed are back, too. After the events of the first book (you could read this book as a standalone but I’d highly recommend reading them in order) Ellery has been suspended from her job and forced into group therapy with other survivors of violent crimes. Because this is Ellery she’s not so interested in looking inward because, ugh, feelings! Rather, this is the perfect opportunity to get herself personally involved in the crimes affecting some of the other group members. Ellery starts investigating an unsolved sexual assault, whose perpetrator may be responsible for a number of other assaults. She also manages to get entangled in a historic arson case despite the convicted arsonist having already spent decades in prison. Naturally Ellery, who is strong, determined and at times petulant, jumps in head first and pretty soon Reed, FBI profiler and the man who rescued her from Francis Coben’s closet many years ago, has joined her in Boston. Even though Ellery basically has Reed wrapped around her little finger I still really like him, or maybe I just want him to cook for me. No matter how much I like Reed he’s a runner up to his adorable daughter, Tula, who’s my favourite human character of this book. Sorry, but no human could ever own a piece of my heart like Bump does! I loved that there was more of a focus on Ellery and Reed’s relationship in this book. Their initial interactions in the first book were understandably awkward because of their shared history up to that point. While they’re still finding their way they’re more comfortable in each other’s presence and they’re building a more equal relationship, although Reed still feels the need to protect Ellery and Ellery still understandably chafes at physical and emotional closeness with any man, even Reed. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, for the opportunity to read this book. Please publish the third book soon! I’m hanging off a cliff here waiting to find out what’s next for Reed!!!