Wednesday 9 March 2022

Read in 2022 - 5: A Wicked Mercy

A Wicked Mercy by Bilinda P. Sheehan is listed as # 1 in a series called Harriet Quinn Crime Thriller, The Yorkshire Murder Mysteries (DI Haskell) or A Yorkshire Profiler Mystery (DI Haskell & Quinn) alternatively, depending on where you look. I would prefer it to be consistently listed, but I don't know what kind of decision-making is involved when a book is published.
Anyway, it was a free Kindle download and it said "Yorkshire" - enough for me to add it to my reading list.

To be honest, there is not all that much "Yorkshire" about the book. Yes, the main events happen there (and the author lives in Whitby), and a few familiar place names pop up, but that's about it.

The story itself is quickly summarised: Three teenagers apparently commit suicide within a short space of time, all around the same area. Coincidence? DI Haskell doesn't think so, and to convince his boss that it is worth considering them not as open-and-shut cases, he enlists the help of forensic psychologist Dr. Harriet Quinn.

It soon becomes apparent that the DI's gut feeling was right. Together, the pair struggle not only to convince the authorities that their investigation is important; they also have their own problems to deal with, and of course with finding the murderer.

While the investigation is suspenseful enough, the end comes in a rather sudden manner, a little inconsistent with the rest of the book. The style of writing is unremarkable, the use of past secrets and conflicts of personality nothing new. It wasn't a waste of time, but I am not sure I will look for more in the series.
I didn't know the author before; her website is here.


  1. It sounds like easy-reading escapism, which has a lot to be said in it's favour at this terrible time.

    1. My current non-fiction reading is also a form of escapism, although it is a current book and mentions the pandemic.

  2. Strangely enough I read a review in a local paper and it said much the same as you.

  3. Suicide is a pressing issue, all over the Internet ...

    Instagram helped kill my daughter.
    Gruesome TikTok suicide video.
    Talk to me 2: Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Strategy for Wales.

    *Aussie TikTok star Caitlyn Loane dies by suicide.* YouTube
    Emily Owen aged 19 from Norfolk took her own life in 2020, after lockdown.
    Tributes paid to Hannah Chipperfield (23) found dead in Brighton flat.
    Paige Greenaway endured most tragic circumstances before her death in Brighton.
    Amy Springer (19) found dead in woodlands, close to West Hove, Brighton.

    Local authorities have suicide prevention seminars, but these are stretched, and there appears to be suicide clusters, in Brighton and parts of Wales, for instance.

    Jennifer Michael Hecht (YouTube) wrote a book on the subject:
    *Stay - A History of Suicides and the Philosophies Against It*.

    Rory O'Connor, professor of Health Psychology at Glasgow University, has a book as well, *When It is Darkest*.
    Read an online interview with Rory: Grassroots Preventing Suicide Together.

    I have known two suicides from long ago:
    A young man working as a porter in an Edinburgh hotel, who hanged himself a week before meeting his older brother who lived in London.
    John Gale, a brilliant journalist on The Observer, who was found dead from an overdose, slumped on a bench in a London park.
    A month or so before he told me about the new novel he was working on.

    Online. *Clean Young Englishman by John Gale: The Age of Uncertainty*.
    My long comment is headed Anonymous though my name is at the end of it.

    1. The character of Dr. Quinn in the book has published papers about clusters of teenage suicides, which is why DI Haskell asks for her expertise.
      I believe that most people sooner or later in their lives reach the point where "ending it all" holds a strong appeal, but only some of them go through with it.
      That teenagers and young adults seem more prone to take their own lives than other age groups is plausible; there is usually so much going on, so many changes for them to cope with.
      It is even more worrying and tragic when younger children are seriously considering suicide. I know a man who was so unhappy as a 5-year-old that he ate mushrooms in the woods, hoping they would be poisonous and kill him.

    2. There are so many changes in the lives of the young, as you say.
      How can they learn coping strategies, if there is no real support system?
      It is disturbing when small children need help now too.

      *The Black Space After an Electricity Accident/ Beate M's Near-Death Experience.*
      YouTube. Thanatos TV EN.
      This very intelligent and sensitive German woman experienced trauma at the age of four, and was haunted by it for years.

      Ending it all has never entered my head, my problem is quite the opposite.
      The central problem for me has been why we have to die, whether we have any hope beyond this world, and whether time and matter alone could have created consciousness.

      Daniel Dennett is convinced that natural selection explains everything, from Bacteria to Bach.
      I myself wonder about the idea of fine tuning in the universe.

      *Tom Stoppard and Nicholas Hytner on the Hard Problem.*
      YouTube. National Theatre.
      The Hard Problem is consciousness, and the name of a Stoppard play revived.

      *Playwright Tom Stoppard on Cancel Culture and his play Leopoldstadt.*
      YouTube. BBC Television.
      This Czech-born English writer looks back on his 80-plus years.

    3. Some of the points you have mentioned here (time and matter, consciousness, fine tuning in the universe) are touched upon in my current non-fiction read: The Importance of Being Interested, by Robin Ince.
      Even just the foreword (by Brian Cox) makes for great reading and plenty of food for thought.

    4. Thanks, Meike: I had not heard of Robin Ince and his book, which I shall order.
      I like Brian Cox who has just published his memoirs.

      I found a copy of J.B. Priestley's *Midnight on the Desert* (1937) in which the Bradford-born novelist travels to Arizona, reflecting on the nature of time and mortality, under the desert stars.

      Richard Holloway (YouTube) suggests the universe is asking questions about itself, through our human consciousness.

      *Leonard Susskind: Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life and Mind?*
      *Alan Guth - Why Is There Anything At All?*
      *Alan Guth - How Vast is the Cosmos?*
      *Alexander Valenkin - Do Multiple Universes Surely Exist?*

      Does chance underpin our lives?

      At the age of 57 I was dodging a summer rainstorm and Starbucks was crowded.
      I ran across the road to the cafe of a Christian bookshop, bought a bottle of water, and looking at the books, decided that any faith I had was long dead.

      As I turned to go I saw a biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Iain H Murray, and only purchased it because I was curious about the Doctor's Welsh roots.
      My return to faith turned on that one event on a humid rainy day ...

  4. Hmmm. I do like mysteries and any set in UK. It's always interesting to read the first book in a series. Sometimes I'll give the writer a second chance unless it was absolutely terrible. (And sometimes, the first is as good as it gets!)

    1. This was wasn't absolutely terrible - far from it. I just didn't warm to the main characters enough to want to know how things would progress for them over the course of the series.

  5. Well, my library doesn't carry this book so I won't worry that I am missing out!

  6. Thanks for the honest review.Much as I'd like to cheer for a Yorkshire book, I consider myself saved from adding to my tbr list.

    1. There are several more for me waiting to be read, hopefully better suiting my taste.

  7. I went to the author's website. It said she has always been a writer but luckily her early work has been lost. Made me smile and think she might be a fun person to be around!☺

    1. Kay, I read that, too, and it made me smile and think the same!

    2. That makes me smile AGAIN to know we think alike!