Small Mercies

Harper. Apr. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780062129482. $28.99. SUSPENSE
In the hot summer of 1974, anti-busing violence and racism erupt in Boston. The same night a young Black man named Auggie Williamson dies in the subway, Mary Pat Fennessey’s 17-year-old daughter, Jules, disappears. When she can’t get information from the young people with Jules that night, Mary Pat turns to the men who offer protection in the neighborhood, Marty Butler’s Irish crew. Mary Pat already lost one child to drugs and the streets, and she is scared she might have lost another one. When she can’t get answers as a grieving mother, all of her fear turns to learning the truth. Why was Jules near the subway where Auggie Williamson died? Where is her daughter? Homicide officer Bobby Coyne sees violence and death in Boston every day, and he’s investigating the Williamson case. But he can only watch in awe as Mary Pat, a tough Southie broad who was born to fight, turns all of her maternal rage and street instincts into her own investigation. Mary Pat might well burn down the neighborhood to discover what happened to her daughter.
VERDICT After almost six years since his last novel, Since We Fell, Lehane’s (Mystic River; Shutter Island) latest is inspired by a childhood experience when his family was caught up in the violence of the anti-busing riots. Pair this powerful, unforgettable story with S.A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears, another remarkable novel about racism, violence, and parental vengeance.
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