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The Absence of Mercy: A Novel, by John Burley.

John Burley's The Absence of Mercy is a harrowing tale of suspense involving a brutal murder and dark secrets that lie beneath the surface of a placid, tight-knit Midwestern town.
When a brutally murdered teenager is discovered in the woods surrounding a small Ohio town, Dr. Ben Stevenson-the town's medical examiner-must decide if he's willing to put his family's life in danger to uncover the truth. Finding himself pulled deeper into an investigation with devastating consequences, he discovers shocking information that will shatter his quiet community, and force him to confront a haunting truth.

With its eerie portrait of suburban life and nerve-fraying plot twists, The Absence of Mercy is domestic drama at its best for fans of Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Jennifer McMahon, and Lisa Gardner.

Author One-on-One: John Burley and William Landay
John Burley

William Landay
New York Times best-selling author William Landay's most recent books include the novels Defending Jacob and Mission Flats.
William Landay: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut novel, The Absence of Mercy. It's a gripping psychological thriller, but there are some deeper themes at work here. As a writer, I know that inspiration can come from many different sources. What inspired this story?
John Burley: Thank you, Bill, and congratulations to you on the phenomenal success of Defending Jacob. The idea for my novel was born shortly after the birth of my daughter. During those first few days, I was struck with the realization that here is another human being for whom I would sacrifice everything to protect-including my own life, if necessary. The intensity of such love and dedication fascinated me, and it wasn't long until I started thinking about how far it could be stretched, about what a parent might be capable of if they were ever pushed to the breaking point.
WL: Like you and your wife, the parents in this novel are both physicians. How did your professional background contribute to the story?
JB: It's sound advice to write about what you know. My training as an emergency medicine physician brings what I hope is a level of realism to the medical scenes, but it also gives the reader an opportunity to experience what life is like on the other side of the stethoscope. Physicians dedicate their lives to relieving human suffering, but they seldom talk about their own suffering, about how the practice of medicine grabs hold of you and never lets go. The long hours, the time spent away from family, the patient you were unable to save despite your best efforts-it all takes a toll. In the end, we're as human as everyone else.
WL: Your wife is a forensic psychiatrist, right? Was that helpful in developing your characters?
JB: Immensely. The story involves a serial killer who terrorizes a small town. We tend to think of such individuals as extremely rare. But many serial killers are sociopaths, and what I learned through discussion with my wife is that sociopaths are present in almost all communities. About 4% of men and 1% of women fit the diagnostic criteria. They frequently blend in to the community, and are harder to identify than one might imagine. Not all sociopaths become serial killers, of course, but for many of them the potential is there. If that doesn't make you lock your doors at night, I don't know what will.
WL:Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did that come later in life?
JB:I've wanted to be a novelist since I was about ten years old. But when it came time to choose a career path the thought occurred to me that writing novels for a living was a long shot and that I needed a day job. I decided to go to medical school, and things sort of snowballed from there. It's a long training process-so many hurdles along the way. About eight years later I came up for air, looked around, and realized I was no closer to becoming a novelist. So I sat down at my desk during the few days each month that I wasn't working in the emergency department, and I began to write. Three years later I finished the first draft, but getting to the point of publication involved another three years. And I thought medical school took a long time.
WL: You continue to work full-time in an emergency department. How are you able to balance the worlds of medicine, writing, and family?
JB: I prioritize as best I can and address the most imminent deadlines first. My wife is extremely supportive, and my six-year-old daughter is a persistent reminder of what's truly important in life. Still, it's not easy to balance so many worlds. But what can I do? I love them all.
352 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 116 reviews

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Midsummer Moon, by Laura Kinsale.

"Laura Kinsale creates magic." --Lisa Kleypas, New York Times bestselling author

"I believe that the best word to describe MIDSUMMER MOON is 'adorable,' and I mean that as a compliment... Will the hedgehog survive? (SPOILER: Yes, it will.)"

When a powerful, decisive aristocrat undertakes to protect an absent-minded young inventress from England's enemies, he finds his orderly world turned into chaos. Merlin Lambourne's stubborn dream of flight puts her at risk, not to mention driving Ransom crazy. In spite of himself, he's oddly enchanted by this muddled miss and her eccentric ways…but can he overcome his own fears and realize her invention may be the answer to saving both their lives? A whimsical Regency-era tale of flying machines, fancy, and love among the hedgehogs.
386 pages, with a 4.0-star rating from 34 reviews

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The Trojan War: A New History, by Barry Strauss.

The Trojan War is the most famous conflict in history, the subject of Homer's Iliad, one of the cornerstones of Western literature. Although many readers know that this literary masterwork is based on actual events, there is disagreement about how much of Homer's tale is true. Drawing on recent archeological research, historian and classicist Barry Strauss explains what really happened in Troy more than 3,000 years ago.

For many years it was thought that Troy was an insignificant place that never had a chance against the Greek warriors who laid siege and overwhelmed the city. In the old view, the conflict was decided by duels between champions on the plain of Troy. Today we know that Troy was indeed a large and prosperous city, just as Homer said. The Trojans themselves were not Greeks but vassals of the powerful Hittite Empire to the east in modern-day Turkey, and they probably spoke a Hittite-related language called Luwian. The Trojan War was most likely the culmination of a long feud over power, wealth, and honor in western Turkey and the offshore islands. The war itself was mainly a low-intensity conflict, a series of raids on neighboring towns and lands. It seems unlikely that there was ever a siege of Troy; rather some sort of trick -- perhaps involving a wooden horse -- allowed the Greeks to take the city.

Strauss shows us where Homer nods, and sometimes exaggerates and distorts, as well. He puts the Trojan War into the context of its time, explaining the strategies and tactics that both sides used, and compares the war to contemporary battles elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean. With his vivid reconstructions of the conflict and his insights into the famous characters and events of Homer's great epic, Strauss masterfully tells the story of the fall of Troy as history without losing the poetry and grandeur that continue to draw readers to this ancient tale.
288 pages, with a 4.1-star rating from 59 reviews

Here's today's Daily Science Fiction/Fantasy Deal, available for $1.99!
The Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner.

"Brunner writes about the future as if he and the reader were already living in it!"
--The New York Times Book Review

"When John Brunner first told me of his intention to write the book, I was fascinated--but I wondered whether he, or anyone, could bring it off. Bring it off he has, with cool brilliance. A hero with transient personalities, animals with souls, think tanks and survival communities fuse to form a future so plausibly alive it as twitched at me ever since."
--Alvin Toffler, author of FUTURE SHOCK

In a world drowning in data and information and choking on novelty and innovation, Nickie Haflinger, a most dangerous fugitive who doesn't even appear to exist, provides a window onto a global society falling apart in all directions, with madness run amok and personal freedom surrendered to computers and bureaucrats. Caught and about to be re-programmed, can he escape once again, defy the government and turn the tide of organizational destruction?

"One of the most important science fiction authors. Brunner held a mirror up to reflect our foibles because he wanted to save us from ourselves."
--SF Site

For each generation, there is a writer meant to bend the rules of what we know. Hugo Award winner (Best Novel, STAND ON ZANZIBAR) and British science fiction master John Brunner remains one of the most influential and respected authors of all time, and now E-Reads is pleased to re-introduce many of his classic works. For readers familiar with his vision, it's a chance to re-examine his thoughtful worlds and words, while for new readers, Brunner's work proves itself the very definition of timeless.
254 pages, with a 4.4-star rating from 30 reviews

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The Odd Squad: Zero Tolerance (An Odd Squad Book), by Michael Fry.

After taming the school's biggest bully, Nick, Molly and Karl expect to bask in Safety Patrol glory. But without a bully to set straight, all they're left with is helping sixth graders cross the hall and reminding everyone that Jell-o meat stains. Enter new kid Simone, who becomes fast friends with Molly but gets on Nick's nerves when she makes light of his quest to find Emily, the mysterious middle school protector who may or may not be real. In an effort to prove he's right, Nick tries to flush Emily out, only to bring the wrath of a new Zero Tolerance policy down on Emily Dickinson Middle School. Nick's in way over his head (he's not that tall in the first place) and risks expulsion if he can't restore his good name. Since Nick is an expert at making wrong moves, he could be in big trouble. Because if there's one thing worse than being the shortest seventh grader in the history of the world, it's having to go through it twice. Praise for The Odd Squad: Bully Bait "Funny and sweet with a steely centre."-Neil Gaiman, New York Times best-selling author of Coraline and the Newbery Award-winning The Graveyard Book "An important message, humorously delivered, that will appeal to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans." - Kirkus Reviews
241 pages, with a 4.1-star rating from 72 reviews

Grades 3-7. Two other "Odd Squad" books are shown below for your convenience.

Happy Reading!