It is 1995. Alan Dacres is a retiring management consultant whose last job takes him to a corner of the world he has not seen since he was sixteen. A corner of the world in which he was bullied mercilessly as a scholarship boy from a 1950’s English grammar school. Forty years on, he is ready to track down the five people responsible. But to remain anonymous he needs help. Help from someone he can trust.
The unpoliced corridors of the Internet will provide the safety Dacres has been looking for. A source from behind which he can carry out his mission of revenge to its ultimate goal - pinning each of the crimes against the first four on the fifth, the ringleader.
More about Mercy
It’s a dark novel. The story about someone who decides to use the internet to exact revenge over the five individuals who bullied him at school.
So you have two modern themes - bullying and an abuse of technology. The thing that fires the plot is that this man is now sixty, and the bullying he is looking to revenge took place over forty-five years ago. The people he’s targeting are now all sixty themselves, so what’s he going to do to them if he finds them? Will they even remember what they did to him?
I suppose I’m fascinated by people’s anger in the modern world, and their inability to let go of events from their past, and to even sometimes feel that retribution might help them come to terms with it. Of course when this is combined with the technology at our fingertips, it can lead to things like ‘trolling’ (the word came from the practice), thoughtless tweets and personal Facebook rants that serve little and often come back to haunt people later in their lives.
There’s a lesson for us all in the book. Maybe I ought to have called it ‘Letting Go’ as that’s what my central character should have done - maybe it’s what we all should learn to do with bad memories...
Listen to Chapter One of Mercy
About Martin Godleman
I first found myself writing stories as a five year old, and found something reassuring about the narrative structure, whether I was explaining how I’d come to accidentally destroy the better part of my nan’s priceless fifty piece china set, or how West Ham United had defeated a Manchester United side, featuring Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best, 3-0.
Words represent a latent power, bullets in the hands of the unloved, and olive branches to those who understand the appeal of compassion. I longed to be a journalist from a young age, but instead became a teacher after failing a test the Acton Gazette gave me that asked questions like the name of the world’s first test tube baby. My answer, ‘Pipette’, speaks reams for my then indifference to all things current affairs.
After fifteen years in teaching, in which I rose to become a Head of English at a school in south London, I found myself more interested in writing myself than teaching it. I left the profession in 1995 to write my third novel ‘Mercy’, which is the story of a business consultant in his retirement year whose final assignment takes him back to the small town where he grew up, and past the secondary school where he was bullied and abused.
The timing is profound for him, and he elects to, with the aid of the newly discovered potential of the internet, round up the five people who caused him such suffering in his early years. As with most stories of revenge, the person playing God in this case finds things don’t quite turn out as He planned.