'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

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
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.

The 412

AC Milan Will Hold a Free Public Practice Tomorrow at Heinz Field

AC Milan Will Hold a Free Public Practice Tomorrow at Heinz Field

Get an up-close look at Balotelli, El Shaarawy and company.
The Thunderbolt Now Is a Certified Landmark

The Thunderbolt Now Is a Certified Landmark

Kennywood’s classic all-wood roller coaster is recognized by the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
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.
Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

The English Premier League champions will face off against the Italian giants this Sunday.

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
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.