Saturday, August 13, 2011

Web by J.P. Mercer

Publisher:             P. D. Publishing

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!" Sir Walter Scott

Beautiful women, a triple homicide, suspense, intrigue, and enough plot twists to make a pretzel. J.P. Mercer must have a new novel.

Ingrid Sheppard is the first woman president of the United States and she's running for a second term. That alone would be enough to rally certain forces against her, but the fact that she's also a lesbian has the conservative right in an uproar. How far would they go to keep her from winning? When Ingrid's younger sister Sasha is found in a house with three women who have been brutally slaughtered and she's covered in blood, she seems to be the logical suspect and also the end of Ingrid's chances for re-election. 

All may not be as it seems though. With this coming soon after an attempt on Ingrid's life, Ingrid begins to wonder if her sister is being framed for a crime she did not commit. The president asks for help from two women who are the best in their fields. Sidney DeRoche is one of the top defense attorneys in the country, Ingrid's best friend, and Sasha's ex-lover. With an out of control district attorney screaming for Sasha's blood, Sidney's job is to protect the woman who once broke her heart.

Liberty Starr is one of the two remaining Talons, a group of highly trained agent/assassins once used by the government. She has retired, but when she is summoned, her sense of duty brings her from the mountains of Montana to see if she can discover who committed the murders, who is trying to kill the president, and if the two situations are connected in any way. As Liberty tries to unravel what exactly is going on, she is confronted with the fact that she may lose something that is more important to her than any duty she feels to her country or president.

When a spider weaves a web, it has many strands. Some lead straight to the center, some lead off of the web and the others are distracters intended to confuse the prey until the spider pounces. Mercer's Web is like that. There are multiple motives for the murder that cross and crisscross until the reader can't be sure which one is leading to the truth and there is always a nagging sense that the spider is about to pounce. 

Mercer shows that women who seem to have no relevance to each other, through the right series of circumstances, follow paths that intersect in unpredictable ways. There are no extraneous scenes in this book, but there are those that lead to deliberate misperceptions about the story. The challenge to the reader is to figure out what is happening before Mercer tips her hand. She uses a combination of flashbacks and forward action to define just enough about the characters to keep the story together and moving. 

Web is a book with plenty of action, suspense and a touch of romance; one of those that is compelling and may make the reader want to finish it in one sitting. This isn't one to start at night if you intend to get much sleep.

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