In this quietly suspenseful story with splashes of manic humor, the eccentrics, the outcasts, the bigots and the bores join the human parade. Mercy Creek, winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize, is a memorable novel by a new voice who deserves to be heard. Read More
In the sulky summer days of a Virginia Eastern Shore town, a current of guilt and repression flows beneath the placid surface of respectability. In the year after his mother's death, with girlfriend problems and his father’s flirting with a new romance, sixteen-year-old Isaac faces not only the mysteries of his coming-of-age but also the mysteries of a twisted communal past.
A summer job at Chum’s Hardware introduces Isaac to Crazy Eddie, an acerbic seventy-seven-year-old who is outspoken about everything except the string of bizarre vandalisms pulling down big headlines in the weekly newspaper. Someone is flooding the houses of Rooksville’s leading citizens and leaving a signature of painted flames on the walls. A clutch of self-righteous vigilantes who gather at the hardware store offers a $5,000 reward for the conviction of whoever is responsible—and they have their eyes on Isaac.
Isaac quickly discovers that small towns in which everybody knows everybody else's business often hide the most vicious secrets. A lost ledger at Chum’s and the unmoored rantings of the town’s recluse about the Klan are the first clues to the unexplained puzzles that swirl like dust motes at the hardware store. By laying bare the stains of history and facing down the town’s hatemonger, Isaac resolves where he belongs in the world.
WINNER OF THE 2012 BRONZE IPPY AWARD IN REGIONAL FICTION OF THE SOUTHEAST
"An enticing full-blown whodunnit ... a first-rate effort displaying skill, sensitivity, and grace." ─Publishers Weekly 3/7/11
"A fast-paced novel about life in the slow lane, in which mundane life becomes charged with menace ... This is more than a mystery novel; it's a coming-of-age story." ─Richmond Times-Dispatch 6/6/11
"A fast-paced coming-of-age novel with strong mystery and thriller elements, highly recommended." ─Midwest Book Review 6/13/11
"Three cheers for Matt Matthews and his surprising debut novel Mercy Creek. Mercy Creek is part mystery and part love story, a chronicle of loss and recovery, and an exploration of family and friendship. The writing, the characters, the sense of place are all vibrant and complex and marvelous." ─Sheri Reynolds, author of A Gracious Plenty and The Sweet In-Between
"This book is about the deep and slow-moving river that is history and a darker story of a past the town won't reveal. Mercy Creek is refreshing, entertaining, and meaningful." ─Bret Lott, author of Jewel and Ancient Highway
“Mercy Creek, so beautifully written by Matt Matthews, marks the launch of a brilliant new voice in literature. This coming-of-age story tells the tale of a summer when the adult world came into focus for Isaac Lawson. It’s got huge heart, it’s compelling, and it’s downright irresistible. I loved every single word. You will too. Congratulations, Mr. Matthews! The world wants to know what you will give us next!" ─Dorothea Benton Frank, author of Lowcountry Summer
This project is made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services administered by the South Carolina State Library and by the South Carolina Arts Commission and Humanities Council SC.