Absence of Mercy is the first book in a new historical mystery series by S.M. Goodwin. Released 10th Nov 2020 by Crooked Lane Books, it's 320 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is an intricately crafted and well engineered mystery wrapped around an accurate historical framework. The characters are well established with realistic and believable internal motivations and agendas. The setting, pre-civil war New York is gritty and believable, with palpable desperation side by side with almost unimaginable wealth and privilege. The author is skilled enough that it's sometimes difficult to distinguish where history ends and the fiction begins.
There are a number of potentially distressing themes included in the narrative including child prostitution, slavery, rampant sexism, abuse (and murder) of vulnerable people, drug abuse, rape, graphic depictions of war, and a few others. They are used in context, but I found it tough going in some places.
The writing itself is very good and the author can certainly tell a compelling story. I would recommend this ones to readers of the historical mystery genre. I think that fans of C. S. Harris (and I am one such) will find a lot to enjoy here. Four and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.