I agree with most readers that MERCY is not Jodi Picoult at her best. Unlike some, I didn’t mind the Scottish clan stuff as I felt it helped to raise the stakes and explain Police Chief Cameron MacDonald’s (aka Cam) elevated standing in the small town of Wheelock Massachusetts, as he is not only the Police Chief but actually the Laird of a community that decamped from Kirriemuir Scotland.
This also explains the first important plot point: Why did Cam’s cousin Jamie MacDonald kill his wife in Wheelock, and then immediately seek out Police Chief Cam? Many readers said they found this puzzling, but the reason is because Cameron MacDonald is Jamie’s clan leader, and as such, is expected to protect his cousin from the consequences of the law.
And so, in this fourth Jodi Picoult novel (I am reading them ALL in order) we have our social issue, that of mercy killing or euthanasia, in the setting of 1990s New England where most people were generally very uncomfortable about this issue, if not dead set against it.
So much for Story One. As most have pointed out, there is another story, which I’ll call Story Two, as it is the more traditional story of the Unfaithful Jerk of a Husband carrying on with wife’s BFF (in this case, a stunning assistant called Mia, whom Cam’s wife Allie helps.) Many readers disliked this story, on the grounds of unbelievability, but I rather enjoyed it. I could empathize with Allie’s infatuation with husband Cam (the Police Chief/Laird,) and her subsequent bitterness as the facts of his betrayal became clear to her. I enjoyed the way that she doled out his comeuppance. But I also agree that Jodi Picoult missed an opportunity to ratchet up the tension by neglecting to tell us more about Mia, who mysteriously appears and vanishes. I was dying to know who she really was, and how she acquired her magical powers. It would have been so neat to have her not only take over Allie’s place at the flower shop, but also as her mother-in-law’s confidant and mixer-of-potions. Four stars.