In the newest addition to the Mercy Hollings series, Toni Andrews goes all out. Mercy and her strange power or curse, called the press, are unceremoniously thrust into a world of gang violence and dangerous players, thanks to Tino, Mercy’s Chicano friend and a full time gang boss. Tino is determined to break himself and his little brother out of the gang peacefully, but outside and inside forces have other ideas. When Tino asks for Mercy’s help, Mercy is bound by friendship and past history to aid in his plan.
Soon, things go horribly awry, and Mercy must make one of the most dangerous choices she’s ever been faced with. On top of Tino’s problems, Mercy is also dealing with the discovery that her adoptive parents may not have had a choice when they abandoned her at eleven years old. She also hopes that they might hold the key to her biological parents and perhaps the first step on the path to the true nature of herself. Maybe the answer to that terrifying question: Is she even human?
According to Andrews, this story is misclassified in romance, and I couldn’t agree more. There are no love scenes or heated moments, and the serious turns these books have begun to take reach far beyond the realm of simple paranormal romance. These are thrillers, with Cry Mercy the most thrilling of all to date. A fast paced book, Andrews still manages to imbue the pages with the rhythms of the barrio and the flavor of Chicano people, and the gangs that are all too common in those ethnic ghettos.
Tino is a complex and charming character, a product of machismo but also striving to be more than his roots, trying to make a better life for himself and his family. The pressures he faced as a boy to join a gang, and the bonds he feels as a man and the leader of the gang, are harshly true to life and an fascinating window into that dark world. I liked Tino a lot, for his sometimes amoral attitude and for the devotion he shows to his brother and mother. Andrews has managed to portray a Chicano character worthy of both respect and fear, love and amusement.
The women represented are smart, strong, and beautiful. Mercy is full of surprises in this book. She continues to struggle with her emotions and their relation to the press, and the search for her birth parents becomes ever more urgent as she comes to believe they are the only ones who can help her control this strange power. The mistakes she makes with her power become more frightening and more serious as the story goes on, until the final climax and a shocking twist.
The simultaneous development of Sukey’s abilities is a stark contrast. Where Mercy is bleak and brooding, Sukey revels in her abilities and truly enjoys learning to master them. The friendship between the two women becomes even more important as the story goes on, and I truly loved Sukey’s enthusiasm and her desire to become a P.I.
Mercy’s conflict with Sam Falls is still ongoing. I do feel that Sam was shortchanged in this book, although I really did enjoy the more action filled parts as a replacement. I’m interested to see the development of their relationship or lack thereof in the next book.
This is a great read, heart-stopping, laugh out loud, and even cry a little. Andrews continually improves, and although I think she still has some trouble carrying multiple plot lines, these rougher edges and seams are being smoothed out rapidly. I’m excited to see where Mercy and her friends go next, to hear the truth about her parents and herself, and hopefully hook up with a certain sexy sailor. I highly recommend this series. Up next: An interview with Toni Andrews.