Don't know if anyone remembers but this was the book I had on my wishlist that I couldn't remember why I'd put it on there. I am SO glad I bought it.
Mercy Hollings is a pretty ordinary person, but she has an extraordinary gift. She has the power to make people do what she wants. She calls this power 'the press'. Mercy's friend Sukey has appalling taste in men, when her latest boyfriend (Rocko) slips her heroin and causes her to overdose, Mercy takes matters into her own hands to ensure it will never happen again. Unfortunately in getting rid of the sleazy boyfriend, Mercy manages to draw the attention of Dominic, drug dealer and Rocko's boss. Dominic wants his heroin back.
One of the things I love about this book is that Toni Andrews does not insult her reader's intelligence / literary knowledge. I read the back cover of BFM and thought Aha! this sounds like 'the push' from Firestarter. Chapter 2 begins :-
"When I was fourteen, I read a book by Stephen King called Firestarter."
Mercy then explains why her power is different to that of the push. I thought this was a nice little touch. (In a way her power is similar to that of Eden from Heroes Season 1, the character who ended up shooting herself rather than giving up her power to Sylar).
I think that comparison to Heroes is relevant because in a lot of ways Beg For Mercy follows the same line. Mercy is not a cop / private detective / lost fairy princess / super hero, she's trying to live an ordinary life without hurting people. She has four rules for when she can and cannot use her power. The most important being - Do No Harm. But when a word spoken in haste or anger can do irreperable damage it's easy to understand why she's chosen to try and isolate herself. However, she's made friends in this community and when she puts those people in danger, she sorts her mess out and ultimately has to break her rules. (Though it has to be said, she sometimes seems to have a pretty flexible approach to most of them.)
Mercy does let her emotions over-ride her judgement, which considering the power she has isn't a good thing. She initially pursues Rocko without being certain of his guilt. She makes a big assumption because of her own self-recrimination. And when she uses the press on him, she sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately put Sukey, and Mercy's other friends in even more danger. I very much liked this ripple effect. Nearly everything that happens can be traced back to that initial press on Rocko. And as Mercy tries to put things right, she ends up having to use the press even more. It shows how easily she could become corrupted by her power.
There is the beginning of a romantic relationship between Mercy and Sam, but this story mainly focuses on Mercy, so if you prefer the romantic relationship to be the central thrust of the story this one may not be for you. But you'd be missing out on a great tale.
Aside - There are a couple of scenes reminiscent of Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. And I so wanted Mercy to say - "These are not the droids you are looking for." But obviously that didn't happen. LOL
Mercy has a power that can't be topped. These are tricky heroes to write about and initially I was a little concerned. This is why Superman has kryptonite. There has to be something for the bad guy to exploit. But I needn't have worried because Mercy has her weak points.
She knows that the consequences of using the press can be catastrophic, but even knowing this, she still uses it. She tries to take care, but she's still sometimes careless, and even when she's being cautious, the results are unpredictable, because it's impossible for her to foresee all the consequences of her actions. She's also without realising it come to care for her friends - always a liability in fiction. And finally she meets someone on whom the press doesn't work - Dominic.
Dominic, Dominic, Dominic. An absolutely delicious bad guy. There's quite a few of them around at the moment. He's not a nice man. He's very, very bad. But Toni Andrews writes him as charmingly evil. He knows (or says he knows) much more about Mercy than she knows about herself. I can't help but hope we haven't seen the last of him.
Beg for Mercy makes a refreshing change from vampires, werewolves, elves and the end of the world. Recommended.
Angel of Mercy Book 2 - May 2008
P.S. I'm going to make a quick comment about the cover - my copy was really annoying, the front and back covers curled away from the spine, even before I'd read it. I don't know if this is something to do with some kind of coating the publisher has put on there to make parts of it shiny but I hope it's a one off. The cover's primary job is to protect the story inside, prettyifying it should come a distant second. I want to be able to read this book in ten years, not have to replace it.