The Tolling of Mercedes Bell
In dire financial straits because of her abusive late husband, Mercedes Bell is thrilled to have been offered a paralegal position at a law firm. While the earnings will be sufficient to provide for her and her young daughter Germaine, Mercedes determines to not jump quickly into another relationship for fear of yet another disastrous marriage. But a year later, Mercedes meets Jack Soutane, a suave lawyer who lures Mercedes into a fairytale romance. Mercedes and Jack’s relationship appears to run smoothly until their horrific honeymoon—the first in a chain of unnerving and convoluted events. Jennifer Dwight crafts a hauntingly realistic story in her debut novel.
Dwight tightly weaves nuances of the 1980s in her suspenseful romantic plot. The time period is known for its contrasts—great socioeconomic advancement “due to advances in technology and the beginning of globalization” (Wikipedia) amid a flurry of wars (i.e., The Falklands War and various civil wars), and a new disease: AIDS. Dwight does an excellent job of slowly mixing deception and ambiguity within her well-developed characters through the use of dialogue. While focusing attention on Mercedes Bell, her principal character, and her intense romantic relationship with Jack, Dwight concurrently presents a human-interest story set on familiar familial and worldly themes. Good familial examples include domestic violence and incest; worldly—company, drug, and sexual corruption, and the highly sensitive tenor of gender in the 1980s.
Although Dwight’s third person narrative incorporates a balanced combination of history and various themes within a romantic environs, it is truly first and foremost a story of survival and courage. Dwight keeps her plot constantly flowing by building tension within evasive and unanticipated scenes while alternating chapters and chapter segments with Mercedes’s nightmares, flashbacks, and passionate lovemaking as well as the fierce friction between Mercedes and Jack. The Tolling of Mercedes Bell is an unforgettable page-turner—a must read by all!
|She Writes Press
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller