Rating: 4 WaterTowers (Scary place to go to school)
“Without Mercy” is an ARC sent to me by Lisa Jackson. It was due in stores March 30, 2010.
Jules Farentino is haunted by nightmares of the day her father was murdered. Although the dreams change a bit each time, she is always the one holding the bloody knife, watching her father slip away in a pool of blood. Did she kill him? She does not really know.
Suffering from debilitating migraines (possibly caused by these nightmares), Jules has lost her teaching job and is now a waitress.
Jules’s step sister, Shay Stillman, has recently gotten herself in a heap of trouble with the law and was assigned by the judge to attend Blue Rock Academy in the Southern Oregon mountains.
Blue Rock Academy is run by Reverend Lynch and is a place where God and a firm hand turn around wayward teenagers (of mostly rich parents). At Blue Rock are a handful of teachers (with interesting backgrounds) and about 80 students. The setting is idyllic. Surrounded by mountains with a lake and isolated from civilization, Blue Rock is the perfect place for…..MURDER.
As soon as Shay arrives she starts the effort to leave. Her new roommate, Nona, is a bit cold to her. She tells Shay that she has a lover…but does not say his name.
Shay sneaks access to a telephone and calls Jules asking her to get her out. Jules, in the meantime, has been checking up on Blue Rock concerned because of a missing girl several months ago, and concerned that Shay could be in danger.
What Jules finds spurs her into action! She applies for a teaching job at Blue Rock, and gets it. Off to protect Shay she goes.
As she is travelling, Nona and her lover are brutally murdered. Nona is hung, naked, in the horse stable while Drew has a head wound from a hatchet. Ugly and gruesome.
When Jules gets there, she finds (what are the chances of this happening?) her old boyfriend, Cooper Trent, ex-rodeo cowboy, ex-cop is a teacher there. Trent is looking for the missing girl, or information pertaining to her, at the request of her parents.
Now they have a murder to solve.
Once they get over the shock of being together again, Jules and Cooper work together to uncover Blue Rock’s mysteries. They are told of a secret, possibly dangerous, society of TA’s that meets somewhere around campus.
More murders…and the terror at the school escalates just as the snow storm of the century hits and further isolates the school.
I have read several Lisa Jackson books lately and “Without Mercy” is right up there with the best. I love the way she cuts to the evil people without naming them. The reader gets an insiders point of view of what they are thinking and planning. For example, the mysterious “Leader” has the hots for Shay and, now, Jules. We find he is driven by sexual desire, but, is trying to control that desire. We also know that he has followers (duh..he is “The Leader”).
The ending of the book reveals the motives of “The Leader” and his followers, and also the identity of the murderer. Believe me, the ending will surprise the living daylights out of you.
I highly recommend picking up “Without Mercy” but make sure you have cleared your scheudle!