When I saw this book on NetGalley for review, I requested it right away. I loved Tiffany Baker’s The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and couldn’t wait to read her newest book.
Mercy Snow takes place in the tiny New Hampshire town of Titan Falls, whose livelihood depends on the local paper mill.
This is not an unfamiliar story — the mills are closing, the workers are hungry, and even the longtime owners have to fear what the future holds. The town’s entire population is tied to the mill, and June, the mill owner’s wife, is suddenly no better off than Mercy Snow, living with her sister and brother in a trailer on the outskirts of town. A church bus crash into the icy river brings the town to the breaking point, and unearths things that were better left buried there on the edge of the murky, polluted water.
Tiffany Baker has the gift of creating unlikely characters and making your heart break for them; a person, perhaps, you would have passed on the street without a second glance. Her best characters walk the fringes of society, each of them quirky and seriously flawed. Sometimes, Baker even makes me feel sorry for the people I know I’m supposed to hate. Sure, there are plot points here that are not quite so credible, but the writing is strong, atmospheric and, at times, magical.
This is a mystery that is not really a mystery. It is a story whose plot you can figure out before the denouement. But the story is gripping, and the characters will stay with you. As someone who reads a lot of books, I find it rare to remember a particular character for long after I’ve finished. Truly Plaice was one of those rare finds, and Mercy Snow is sure to be another.