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Town Without Mercy

Narrated by: Cecilia Marie
Length: 4 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (14 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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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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Heartbreaking story

I loved this novel. It is quite remarkable. The description of the events surrounding this story line is so surreal.

very realistic and well written
amazingly narrated

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Wow!!

What a difficult book to review for his story line but at the same time I have to applaud the author for writing such a difficult situation but that’s our reality on this difficult times!

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A Tough Story

I was warned there were triggers involved in this story. I went for it anyways. When I was growing up there was a shooting at my high school. It was well before Columbine and Sandy Hook. I lost a few friends that day and some were never the same after being held hostage. Hearing a story about a school shooting told from the parents of the shooter was very difficult for me.

I understand the need to protect your own child, but I’ll admit I broke into tears during this story at several places. I also understand how this story is supposed to make you open your eyes to how much hate is rampant in our everyday lives. It’s a lot to think about.

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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 swoffer
  • 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.

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  • Victoria Schwimley
  • 05-22-19

Such a realistic, unfair tragedy

First I will say, I could not stop listening to this story. I was riveted, waiting to hear what would be the reason for Mercedes' actions. The narrator was outstanding. She speaks with emotion, and her voice is professional and clear, as is the quality of the recording. Next, I know a lot of LGBT couples, and I will have to say that most of them are happier and better adjusted than many straight marriages of people I know. The way these two women are treated is inexcusable, but sadly, I'm surrounded by the narrow mindedness on nearly a daily basis. Why when a child goes awry, do people automatically blame the parents, or in this case, the parents' lifestyle? Because everyone wants to believe they are better than their neighbor, as if something like this couldn't happen in their own family. I lived it. When I had a troubled teen who was getting into trouble, people told me I'd let the Devil enter my home. Other people tried to tell me I wasn't strict enough, while others tried to tell me I was too strict. Nobody ever thought to blame society or the judges who failed to follow through with their promises of punishment. It was always, "Why can't you control your child? You must be doing something that's causing this bad behavior." It's jut like this for Mercedes' mothers, and the author does an outstanding job at bringing about the realistic damage to a family surrounded by judgmental people. My heart breaks for this family, who could be any family, for any reason their community decided they weren't good enough or moral enough. I applaud this author for being brave enough to write about this subject. I was offered a free copy of this audio and requested to leave an honest and fair review, which in no way influenced my opinion.