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Town Without Mercy

Narrated by: Cecilia Marie
Length: 4 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Is it nature or nurture that drives Adele Baxter Warren's teenage daughter, Mercedes, to become a mass murderer? Town Without Mercy, a complete novella, is contemporary women's fiction dealing with current event drama of mass shootings and gay marriage. Told through the eyes of the mother, a TV news correspondent, Adele must find the answer, even as it takes her away from Mercedes' deathbed where she lays in a coma from the police bullet that stopped the carnage. If Adele follows the leads, the cost could be her 17-year-old marriage to same-sex partner, Jodi Warren. The townspeople of Concord Park wants revenge. They blame Adele and Jodi's lifestyle as the cause of their daughter's actions, but are they innocent of all blame?

©2013 Joanne Simon Tailele (P)2019 Joanne Simon Tailele

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A book you need to read

This book raises many ‘what if’ questions. What if the next mass shooter was a young girl? What if her parents are a lesbian couple? What if the town she lives in is unwilling to forgive? Town Without Mercy tackles all those issues. The book was written in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in which 20 kindergarten children were massacred. I’m sure when Ms. Tailele wrote this book in 2013 that she believed things were going to change after the devastating death of all those children. Well now the audio of that book is available and, big surprise, six years later and nothing has changed.

I’m not American. I don’t understand the obsession with weapons of war being possessed by every day people. Each time I hear of another shooting, my heart breaks. I live in Canada and although we have gun deaths and suicides, they don’t come close to the level of violence in the States. I look at New Zealand and how it took one mass shooting to ban the assault-style weapons. Too late to save the victims, but a way to honor them and to try to make sure it never happens again.

In this book, Adele Baxter Warren is the mother of a mass shooter. She wasn’t even aware her daughter knew how to shoot, let alone is able to fathom why her daughter would do such a horrible thing. As her daughter lies in a hospital bed – shot by a cop in an attempt to prevent further deaths – Adele has to examine both her life and her daughter’s. How did this happen? How did she not see it? Is she a bad parent? Did the fact she’s married to a woman play a part in this hideous event?

Man, she had a tough journey. As a reader, I was pulled along for the ride. I also wanted to understand what could make a seemingly moody but otherwise healthy young woman snap. But is snap the right word? These things rarely come from nowhere. There might be a precipitating event, but the perpetrators often leave behind clues as to why they did this. Not everyone leaves a manifesto, but often, in retrospect, fractures in their lives can be found. My question was, even if Adele finds why her daughter killed all those people, would it really make a difference?

This is a tough book to read. No two ways about it, if you embark upon the journey, you’re in for a tough ride. But I was glad I read the book. Glad I immersed myself in the life of a mother desperate for answers. Glad I asked myself the same ‘what if’ questions she asked herself. We believe we know the people in our lives, but what if we’re wrong? Doesn’t every person have the ability to turn violent in the right circumstances.


This is not a happy book and it does not have a happy ending. How could it? Everyone loses in this situation. Even with understanding comes great sorrow.

I liked how the same-sex relationship between Adele and Jodi just is. They go through all the same struggles as any other couple would but they do have the added question of whether their unconventional family helped lead to the tragedy or was their daughter always destined to be a killer?

Cecilia Marie is a new narrator to me and I loved her. She handled the entire book with grace and her French was bang-on. She brought sensitivity to the story and I appreciated that.

This book is a tough book. It’s also a book everyone should read. There are no easy answers but it does prompt many of the right questions. It makes you think and that’s what all great books do.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Town Without Mercy review

For the first time listening to a book of this type, I actually liked this. The characters and story are interesting, five stars and worth it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow

Wow! This one makes you think. Seeing a different side to school shootings. We never really think of the pain the killers family goes through. It was a good one

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A powerful and emotional story

I am still in a heightened emotional state after listening to Town Without Mercy. Such a well written story that deals with many tough situations... I don’t want to spoil anything by even listing the topics here. Just be prepared for a very emotional listen.

Kudos to Joanne Simon Tailele for tackling such sensitive topics. This book will really make you think.

Cecilia Marie really brought out the emotions. Well done.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and I have voluntarily left this review.

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Tough subject handled well

I do not live in the US so have little experience with mass shootings, let alone that act by a child of a lesbian couple. Is this a story that needed telling I think yes absolutely, it was a difficult listen and to know it was based on fact made it even harder. For a relatively short audio book this packed some serious punches, like ripples in a pond we never know what triggers an event nor how in trying to make change for good in the eye's of a child that things can go so seriously wrong. Guns kill people it is that simple the ease of sourcing them just as easy, you just pull a trigger right ! but the damage oh I so feel for anyone caught up in such an event. A many layered story, my heart just bled at the powerful words, the narration was excellent conveying the authors words succinctly.

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Emotional Rollercoaster

First, I love the play on words with the title. Very clever.
This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. I went through the full spectrum of emotions while listening to this story. Anger, Sadness, Grief, and Joy… I experienced it all.
I loved this story and the topic is more important than ever! With the amount of active shooter situations that happen on a daily basis, I cannot think of a more important story that could be told. On top of this, adding in the aspect of the shooter coming from a household with 2 moms takes the story to another level completely. We are so quick to place blame on the parents when something like this happens… sometimes we forget that those parents are human and hurting as well.
I loved it! Wonderful story.

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A very important book everyone should read

This book isn't easy, but it is a very well written one and deserves everyone’s attention. This book is important, very important. Teach us life is never just black and white. The issues mentioned here aren't easy to address, but the sensitive way conveyed by the author and the narrator to do it are very valuable. The author did a great job giving us the other side of the story and opening our eyes.

There were warnings about the triggers in this story, but I decided to go through all the way. That was the right decision. Having a shooting told from the shooter’s parents point of view, gives a complete and different perspective. Also, after knowing the reasons for the girl to do such a horrific act is definitely as I mentioned before an eye opener. Shows how flawed humanity is. Gives us a clear view of how much tolerance is needed. I'm really ashamed of humanity. Hate is a very awful feeling. They said she was a monster. But, who were the real monsters at the end? Ignorance and hate mixed together make a terrible combination.

Is not a read for the faint of heart. But it is something as humans we should be aware of. It's easy to point and judge others, but we never look inside and see our own mistakes and take responsibility for them.

When I finished this book I had to pause and reflect. This book invites to reflection, deep, wholehearted reflection. There are so many lessons to learn. I insist, this is a book everyone should read.

Communication is the key, always. Learn to listen; learn to talk about your concerns.

Narrated by Cecilia Marie, she did an extraordinary job voicing the feelings and what the author meant to transmit. I was moved beyond words and must admit I cried in a number of places.

It is a tough one, but undoubtedly a great one as well.

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  • Renee
  • Winterville, NC, United States
  • 06-17-19

Intense and Important

In my opinion this is an important novel. It shares a part of living in this day an age which isn't highly discussed. I appreciated the thought provocation and the introspection which followed. Well done, intense and enjoyable.

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Wow...Perspective.

Picking up the pieces after your daughter commits mass murder? I would imagine horrific! I loved this book and the narration was really good. Look there isn't an excuse for these heinous crimes across our country...BUT...just consider for a moment it was YOUR child, or parent, or brother or sister...I understand the anger..but as a rule, anger stems from hurt. There is no easy way to look at this subject..no easy answers to solve mental health issues..but get the conversation started for sure! I hurt for Mercedes family much more than I did for Mercedes. Seriously..most marriages don't survive this type of stress. One more thing..I'm a Christian..raised that way my whole life...not all us Christian's are as small minded or as crazy at that NUT at the door..but she TOO is dealing with her own issues....and the beat goes on. Very good book..I highly recommend!

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The name is programm!

My first thoughts were with the victims but this book made me realize that the family of the shooter are also victims! And the shooter herself too. I felt for her and hoped she would survive! What must happen to someone to do such a thing?

The narration was great and really pulled you in!

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  • Jude
  • 09-09-19

Good intentions are not enough

The premise for this sounded interesting (first female mass shooter in the history of the United States, told from the POV of one of her mothers, Adele) but too much wrong stuff got in the way.

First of all, the girl’s birth was a result of a date rape but the guy is treated like some kind of fling, someone Adele had a one night stand with, not the man who raped her. And maybe some LGBT parents feel bad for raising their children in LGBT families but I had a hard time believing Adele and her wife Jodi would feel okay with that man talking about their (as in his and Adele’s) daughter without correcting him, after he’s known he’s the father for all of five minutes. Add to that the whole talk about a father figure and how a lesbian activist Adele meets could have been pretty had she not tried so hard to be masculine and it was too much for me. I mean, seriously ?

Good for you if you want to write about important topics in today’s society (in this case mass shootings and same-sex marriage), good for you if you want to write about people you feel are underrepresented but maybe leave your own prejudice at the door. Good intentions are not enough.

There’s no way I can recommend this book to anyone. If you’re interested in a mass shooter’s mother’s take on her child’s crime, Sue Klebold's Ted Talk is a better use of your time.

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  • Cindy
  • 08-10-19

Emotional!

This book was so well written. I love how the story was from the point of view of Adele who is the mother of Mercedes, a teenage girl who is the perpetrator in a mass shooting. Town Without Mercy dealt with hate and violence, and it was raw and emotional. I feel like it's a book everyone should read since tragic events like this happen so often in our society. This book had twists and turns and an ending I didn't expect. I very highly recommend this book. Cecilia Marie did an excellent job bringing this story and these characters to life. I received this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this unbiased review.


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  • Mercy Griffin
  • 07-25-19

A Story Truly Deserving of Five Star Reviews

Town Without Mercy is a highly recommended book! It took me a while before I was finally able to listen to this book. and when I started listening, oh boy, I just couldn't stop! The story just flowed so well that it took me right in the middle of it all. Of course, part of that was because of the powerful and emotional narration. Cecilia Marie is an outstanding narrator. And Joanne Simon Tailele is an author I would be always on the lookout for!

As a parent of teens, this is a truly eye-opening tale. The story made me take a look at my kids in different view. It made me realize that there are things that they could not be telling me and I have to be more sensitive to what they are feeling and going through.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Foxy
  • 07-19-19

Amazing story!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book, but it sounded interesting reading the summary, as this isn't normally the type of book I would choose. But WOW WOW WOW this story was amazingly written and narrated. I had to listen to this book in one go as it had me hooked and I needed to know what was going to happen.

It felt so true and while I was listening to it, it felt like I was there and actually apart of the story. I had goosebumps, and was also very emotional.

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  • S.Esmeijer
  • 07-13-19

You need to listen to this book

Wow, this book is very well written. If you think the worst thing that can happen to you is 'your daughter being shot in a massshooting' think twice: it is being the parents of the girl who happens to be the shooter.

Adele, the mother of the girl who started shooting wasn't even aware her daughter could shoot or had access to a gun, let alone know the reason behind all this. After her daughter lies in hospital, Adele tries to find out why this all happend. Her relationship with her wife is at stake. Are they bad parents, did they do something wrong?


I couldn't stop listening to this book, it is so well written that you want to know what happens next,
even though it is tough to read the book, because of all the sadness and questions you keep asking yourself, and trying to figure out what you would do if it was your daughter.
It isn't an easy read, but a book everybody should read, it makes you think about life and people's actions.

The narrator did a very excellent job. I loved her voice, so full of suspense and calm at the same time. She handled the story with grace and I think it is exactly as the author meant it.
When I finished the book, all I could think was wow: I never listened to such a good audiobook.
I immediately started discussing this book with my partner, trying to have my questions answered. It left me with more questions..


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  • Stephanie Kiewel
  • 06-21-19

Quite a surprise!

I must admit, this wasn’t the kind of audiobook I would usually choose to listen to. This is probably the reason why I started it quite hesitantly and probably had trouble getting into it for the first hour or so. This might have also been because of the narrator who made it a little hard for me to engage - I can’t exactly pinpoint why, it might simply be personal preference or/and the accent.

The book is quite heavy, a tough story and nothing “easy going” you would listen to to wind down in the evening or on your commute to work. In fact, I found myself so engrossed and consumed by the story, I had trouble after to focus on the task at hand (aka going to work) - so bear that in mind when listening to it.

That all being sad, it is a very unusual, sometimes breathtaking and incredible story that should be on everyone’s list!
I found the perspective and the way the story developed very interesting and inspiring. The twists had me gasping! How would you deal with picking up the pieces after your teenage daughter turns out to be a mass murderers that decided to shoot “innocent” people at a big event?

The way the story was told was incredible. It was completely believable and i absolutely felt for especially Adele and then the whole family who was simply trying to understand what happened. This alone would serve for a great story with so much depth, but what added the extra layer was the fact that the teenage girl grew up in a rainbow family which added extra layers, extra struggles and so much extra depth. The struggles the two women had to get through, seriously hurt my heart and I felt for them every minute of it.

I also loved the way the author told the story of how the two ladies found each other - it added so much to the story and made the characters so much deeper.

What I would have loved to see was a little more introduction. I felt the story could have done with a little more “setting up” before the big action began, which would have helped to care for and engage with the main characters sooner.

I don’t want to spoil the ending - but again it had me gasping and I can’t believe how well written it was!

Also - on a side note - great title! I love the double meaning.

All in all a great book, which could have done with a little more depth to start with, but caught itself very well. The characters were believable and the story incredibly touching. Definitely worth a listen just for the story alone!

** I have received a code in exchange for an honest review **

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  • Toni walker
  • 06-07-19

I enjoyed this book

At first it was a bit hard to listen to as it was from the side that you don’t normally look at but overall the story was told and written really well

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  • Jessica71208
  • 06-02-19

A powerful story

This story was such an emotional book. I really found this book interesting because I feel like we don't look at the story from the parents point if view. In some ways this was a hard story to read but it's also something that is relevant to the times we live in. I think this book can also be a great learning tool for people to how for everyone's actions their are reactions. The narrator did a great job with this story with it being a sensitive subject. I enjoyed this story and found if very interesting and touching.

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  • PATRICIA
  • 05-22-19

Powerful and moving

Sometimes you listen to a book, and are completely caught up in it. This story by Joanne Simon Tailele had me listening in shock, frustration and compassion as I heard the story of Mercedes. "Mercy" went to a fireworks show, and instead of enjoying the display, created her own with a mass shooting. Adele and Jodi, her parents were distraught over the shooting, and shocked to find out the shooter was their daughter. Now with their daughter in a coma, the questions as to how and why need to be answered. This story so powerful and current in today's society. We all watch the news and are horrified by such tragedy. But we never take into account the family of the shooter, and what would have driven them to such a decision. Tailele takes us through twists and turns, the effects it has on relationships and communities and the victim themselves. It will stay with you and give you a different perspective.

Cecilia Marie narrates this dramatic story, letting us live through the characters. We feel Adele and Jodi's pain and insecurity as parents. Marie draws us in with her inflections and emotions, giving us a minute part of the experience these families go through. She gives a powerful performance for this well written book.

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  • Emma Roseman
  • 05-22-19

Moving story which left me thinking

Joanne Simon Tailel wrote a deeply moving story of tragedy and love. The love of two mothers for their daughter and what was felt when tragedy hit their family. It showed how so many people can be closed minded about what they do not understand and how that can cause a teenage girl to go into depression.

Excellent job by Cecilia Marie in narrating the book and having the right tone as the situation changes.

It definitely left me thinking about what happens in the world and some of the reasons that we will never know.