After the traumatic events of the previous year, in which she helped stop a serial killer, Ellery Hathaway is trying to get her life back together. Having killed an unarmed suspect she is suspended from her duties as a police officer and must attend mandatory therapy. When her psychologist encourages her to join a group session for victims of violent crime, she meets some interesting people. The first is Myra, who was horribly burned in a fire set by an arsonist, in which her two year old son was killed. Myra, like Ellery, knows what it's like to be famous as a victim, and to know that the person who destroyed your life is still alive in jail. The second is Wendy, survivor of a rapist who broke into her flat and attacked her.
Wendy begs for Ellery's help to catch her rapist, so once again Ellery calls on Reed Markham, the FBI profiler who once saved her from her kidnapper. Meanwhile, Ellery also finds herself drawn to investigate the fire that Myra survived and she comes to suspect that the man who was convicted of it was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The signs point to a police coverup that seems to link back to Markham's mentor in the FBI.
No Mercy is a great follow up to Joanna Schaffhausen's first novel, The Vanishing Season. It's a lot more polished than the first book, with no plot holes that I noticed and solid characterisation. Ellery and Reed work through issues with their respective families, while grappling with their feelings for each other. Refreshingly, two books in there still isn't really a romance between them, just a deep and complicated friendship. Fellow dog lovers might also be reassured to know that despite all the awful things that keep happening to and around Ellery, her dog, Speed Bump, is still okay.
This book is a fairly quick read, with plenty of excitement and suspense. Ellery makes a lot of questionable decisions, but the plot wouldn't keep moving along if she stopped doing that so just roll with it. No Mercy ends on a cliffhanger obviously designed to make you want to read the next book, which is due to be published in February 2020. I'm hooked, so I'll be waiting for it.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Minotaur Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.