Item description for The Mercy Seat: A Joe Donovan Thriller by Martyn Waites...
A research scientist has gone missing. An ace newspaper reporter has disappeared; so has a minidisc, along with its incriminating evidence. And a teenage hustler is on the run. In his pursuer, the Hammer, a skin-headed professional killer with a blue sapphire tooth and a taste for death metal, "the principle of evil" has indeed been "made flesh." Martyn Waites' sixth crime novel wrests former Herald investigative journalist Joe Donovan out of his reclusion in rural Northumberland. His heart broken, like his marriage and career, by the disappearance of his six-year-old son two years earlier - a case that remains unsolved - he now finds his destiny entwined with that of the streetwise but vulnerable and frightened, wary, teenager Jamal. For on the minidisc, lifted by an unwitting Jamal, lies a crucial, increasingly perilous link to Donovan's past. As Donovan hones his old investigative skills, long-buried secrets begin to emerge. And the bodies start piling up: The Hammer is no slacker - but he's no mastermind, either. In dangerous alliances on both sides of the law, Donovan strives to uncover what - or who - in Newcastle ties the predatory, hugely obese Father Jack to a luckless drug-dealing parolee to the Herald's smooth-talking, pin-striped lawyer, Francis Sharkey, to a dead editor, a missing scientist, Jamal...himself.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8" Width: 5.8" Height: 1.5" Weight: 1.25 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2006
Publisher Pegasus Books
ISBN 1933648007 ISBN13 9781933648002
Availability 0 units.
More About Martyn Waites
Born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Martyn Waites worked as a professional actor before becoming a writer. A former Writer in Residence at Huntercombe Young Offenders' Institution and HMP Chelmsford, he currently runs arts-based workshops for socially excluded teenagers.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Mercy Seat: A Joe Donovan Thriller?
EXCELLENT WORK Aug 11, 2006
Just ignore that Jerry Guy's review he is a nob
The Mercy Seat is the best Thriller Debut this year
Almost, Not Quite, Top Drawer Brit Thriller Noir! Jun 10, 2006
As a non-stop hard hitting, realistic, and action packed thriller set in present day England, this is probably hard to beat. A really burnt out, even suicidal, ex-newsman becomes involved with about every crooked low life type that one may imagine, from bad cops to child molesters, and sadistic killers. Great descriptions of England's seamy urban side, and a really motley assortment of personages, mostly bad, make this a solid US debut! Thankfully, most of the gruesomeness and perversions are not described in detail, another feather in the cap of the author. Only four stars because, some of the characters and situations become almost cartoon-like, and an editor could have cut down on some repetitive phrases like "He Smiled", which are way over-done.
Very Compelling Start May 22, 2006
Martyn Waites' The Mercy Seat is a thrillingly ugly portrayal of a big city's underbelly--full of crime, abandoned children, thugs, lawyers, etc. A 14-year-old rent boy steals a mini-disc player; and when he listens to the mini-disc that happened to be inside the player, he realizes he's stumbled onto something very important. Some people are dying over the contents of this disc, and some good guys are trying to figure out the who, what, and why of the crimes described on the disc.
Yes, some of the characters are a bit formulaic. Yes, there's a lot of sick violence. But it really lends verisimilitude to the bleak landscape Waites want us to believe is real. I was convinced!
The story is a little too long; but the author has put enough thought into the subplots and supporting characters so that they do not sink the story. They may weigh it down a bit, but you won't be sorry you picked up this scary and sometimes horrifying thriller. I will definitely read any other of Martyn Waites' novels I can get my hands on.
Not exactly a tasty neo-noir or noir treat May 10, 2006
Noir is supposed to be "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings". Neo-noir is defined as " the modern trend of incorporating aspects of film noir into films of other genres," with the note that "the term can be applied to other works of fiction that incorporate these elements".
The dustjacket proclaims Martyn Waites as "one of the major talents in neo-noir." I'd argue both the designation as a major talent and that his work is neo-noir. At page 174 of this 421 page yawner, I asked myself why I continued to read it. It is dull, cliched and becomes increasingly predictable.
Author Waites obviously believes that if he makes his characters hardboiled and cynical and sets them in sleazy surroundings, all will be well. Forgotten in this formulation is that the characters have to be interesting and, ideally, believable and the plot has to be capable of involving the reader.
Waites fails on both counts here and more.
The book opens with the torture of Tosher in a dark, dirt-streaked warehouse. Three men are torturing Tosher, one of them having a "muscle-pumped, steroid-assisted" body. He likes driving nails through limbs using his fist as a hammer. Oh my. Then Tosher is lost to us for 300 or so pages.
Everything in "The Mercy Seat" is formulaic. Each character has a tortured past that they can barely cope with. Joe Donovan, once a crack investigative reporter, is a broken man a few years after his six year old son was kidnapped and he lapsed into semi-alcoholism, his marriage and career consigned to the ash heap of history. Maria Bennett, his old editor, calls him back into harness to follow a story that she feels only Donovan can do. Jamal, a 14 year old male prostitute of mixed race, is a drug user and has a background that would make a social worker weep. One after another in an incredibly boring parade, Waites introduces us to his characters. Father Jack, a crook who claims to run a settlement house of some kind is actually a pimp and sexual molester. You could have predicted he would be described as enormously fat as well. Jeta Knight, a former police officer, now runs a private detective agency. Of course, because she is a woman and her partner an Asian homosexual male, their business is failing so they, on their own initiative, stake out Father Jack's brothel (which is, of course, protected by police and politicians) because the fame of their expose will make their security firm rich and famous. Huh?
Waites' cast of characters is lengthy, seemingly a rival to that of "War & Peace." Every one of them has enough problems to keep a Freudian therapist happy for decades. And not a one of them is actually interesting, much less believable.
All this is set in Newcastle, England . . . or at least in the sleazier parts of Newcastle. Guess that makes it noir. Lots of rain. Lots of dark shadows.
The story has Jamal stealing a mini-disc that contains a conversation between a reporter (who shows up dead) and a missing scientist. Donovan, his editor and the newspaper's lawyer try to get the mini-disc from Jamal. Father Jack has other plans. Jeta and Amar join the team. Blood and violence ensue. A corrupt cop has big plans. So does a saintly ex-convict, wrongly convicted of murder, and now compromised by the corrupt cop. And the sadist who likes to hammer nails with his fists is always running around hurting people, when he doesn't simply murder them.
Overall, there's really nothing interesting here. Not the characters. Not the plot. Sure the make-believe people who populate this novel are cynical and hard-boiled. But in a cliched way. The plot is like an all-stop commuter train: you'll know you'll get to the end of the line . . . eventually. It just seems like forever.
Martyn Waites should have shown mercy to the reader in "The Mercy Seat" by creating interesting characters and a believable plot. He didn't, so you can show mercy to yourself and not bother with this.
Newcastle ain't that Bad Feb 17, 2006
This was my first book by Martyn Waites. It's part of the popular Joe Donavan series and the book starts by coaxing Joe out of retirement. From the first few pages the book picks you up, throws you into the seat, and tells you to stay there. The book takes you on an intercity rollercoaster journey between Newcastle (incidently my home town)and London and introduces characters so believable that I'm convinced I've met a few of them. The story is first class and keeps you hanging on until you find out what happened to our hero's kidnapped son. (No I'm not gonna spoil it for you.)