'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

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.

The 412

Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Relive the two-day event that was part innovation and part musical brilliance.
Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Although shooting has begun for this flick, plan to catch Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood while they’re out on the town, not during film production.
Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Headlights Aim to Make Life Easier

Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Headlights Aim to Make Life Easier

CMU’s Robotics Institute may help to make nighttime driving a little easier on the eyes.
Put on Your Robe and Head for the Rooftop

Put on Your Robe and Head for the Rooftop

Catch a screening of "The Big Lebowski" — plus grab a White Russian — at this showing, held on top of a downtown parking garage.

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.
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.
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.