'In Search of Mercy'

Michael Ayoob is concerned with mysteries of a more prosaic sort in his debut novel, In Search of Mercy.



Michael Ayoob is concerned with mysteries of a more prosaic sort in his debut novel, In Search of Mercy. Dexter Bolzjak is a disgraced former goalie who blew the high school championship. After being pulled from the game, he was kidnapped, abused and molested. Now it’s several years later, and Dexter is keeping a low profile working for a Strip District vegetable wholesaler.

Estranged from his parents and living in his best pal’s basement, Dexter has effectively cut himself off from the rest of the world. All of that changes one morning when someone appearing to be a bum offers Dexter a lot of money to find the woman he was once engaged to—a famous movie star by the name of Mercy Carnahan, who disappeared many years ago.

Ayoob knows the city well, and the scenes set in the Strip are the most energetic and enjoyable in the book. Yinzer idiosyncrasies and local truisms abound: “F-n’ Pittsburgh, man. It’s a small, small town. Live here long enough, and everybody knows you or your name or someone in your family.”

However, too much of what transpires in these pages is so over the top as to be unbelievable. The description of a high school hockey game makes your typical meeting between the Pens and Flyers look like a tea party.

Ayoob also tends to luxuriate over descriptions of torture and violence. Dexter’s pal makes his living by digitally altering footage to make it appear that celebrities are tortured and murdered in some stomach-churning ways. I understand that the whole point is that the violence is so repellent, but it feels as if Ayoob indulges in his own powers of description a little too much.


In Search of Mercy by Michael Ayoob; Minotaur Books; $24.99.

Hot Reads

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

PittGirl's at it again — this time with a list of a half-dozen fun facts you'll want to mention at your next cocktail party.
'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

We pick the perfect neighborhood for six breeds of ’Burgher.
Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Those who eye 8-year-old children with suspicion have more than a self-awareness problem.

The 412

Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

You never know who you’ll meet right outside your door.
Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

No, not just one of the best views at a ballpark — best views period.
Thrival Festival is Like Coachella for Cool People

Thrival Festival is Like Coachella for Cool People

Moby, Portugal the Man will headline the music and innovation festival Sept. 13-14 at Bakery Square.
Watch: UPMC Doc Sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Every Baby He Delivers

Watch: UPMC Doc Sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Every Baby He Delivers

“The Singing Doctor” of Magee-Womens Hospital makes every birth feel special.

Hot Reads

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

PittGirl's at it again — this time with a list of a half-dozen fun facts you'll want to mention at your next cocktail party.
'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

We pick the perfect neighborhood for six breeds of ’Burgher.
Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Those who eye 8-year-old children with suspicion have more than a self-awareness problem.
The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Food trucks. Pizza boats. Bagel Clubs. The best on-the-run food in town.
Best of the 'Burgh 2014

Best of the 'Burgh 2014

60 of our favorite things — from mobile fashion trucks to off-menu items and big-top apprenticeships.