True Mercy by Idelle Kursman is a riveting and suspenseful thriller about a girl’s attempted escape from modern slavery. It was early morning in Chisinau, Moldova and Marina was on her way to the station to catch a train. At the quiet and empty station, a stranger approaches Marina and forcibly shoves her into a waiting car. For the next six months, Marina is on a ship, chained up with several other women. They are brutally beaten, raped, and prostituted from port to port across Europe. Seizing an unprecedented and unexpected opportunity to escape, Marina is surprised to find herself in the United States. Starving, frightened and unable to trust anybody, Marina seeks refuge in a park-like area in a residential neighborhood. Unexpectedly, Marina receives assistance from an unusual source. A little leery, but grateful, she accepts the proffered help. But with dangerous men seeking vengeance and hot on her trail, has Marina endangered everyone’s lives by receiving aid and shelter?

True Mercy by Idelle Kursman is a spellbinding novel that starts in Eastern Europe and makes its way across to America. Once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. It is an amazing depiction portraying victims of sex trafficking. The main character’s scramble to survive and be free again is heartrending. The author has done an excellent, but a disturbing job of capturing a very real nightmare that is operating across the world. Not only has the author featured human trafficking, but Autism also plays a major part in the storyline. It is a marvelous representation of the difficulties related to this spectrum disorder, rendering the characters lifelike and relatable. The unconventional conflicts gave the story a fascinating balance between good and evil. This remarkable and breathtaking novel keeps the reader in suspense to the final pages. It is a stunning novel and I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Kursman’s work.

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite


“From the first page of True Mercy, I knew I was in for a wild, harrowing ride of a story. Thankfully, author Idelle Kursman is up to the task; she is a true storyteller and wordsmith. Whether hurling the reader through fast-paced action, crafting fascinating characters–the kind worth rooting for, as well as the make-your-skin-crawl variety–or structuring a plot that’ll give your fingers paper cuts from flipping the pages so fast, Kursman’s talent will pull you in and leave you gasping for breath. True Mercy is a powerful, entertaining read and will put Kursman on your shortlist of go-to authors.”

—Robert Liparulo, best-selling author of the Dreamhouse KingsThe Thirteenth Tribe and The Judgment Stone
“A nail-biting journey through the sex slave trade. Readers will cheer for the courageous Marina and her unlikely rescuer, Bruce.”

—S.W. Hubbard, author of Another Man’s Treasure

“It isn’t every day that one of the central characters in a thriller story is autistic; but True Mercy pairs a widowed father struggling with his autistic teen son with a discovery that places both in danger, tossing them squarely in the world of a human trafficking ring, and uses autism’s special challenges to provide an extra twist in an engrossing saga.

Marina’s escape from the ring has been miraculous, and her stumbling into the yard of Adam and his father is another stroke of good luck for her. Her involvement with Adam and his family will change not only her life, but theirs.

Adam’s autism is realistically portrayed in a saga that moves between ‘voices’ and perspectives, but keeps them easily identifiable, unswerving, and powerful through clear chapter headings.

Adam’s emotions are plainly explored (“In the midst of happy memories of licking the chocolate chip cookie batter while his mother checked the cookies baking in the oven, Adam spotted a woman on the ground. He was afraid she was dead. On nature shows he occasionally saw an animal lying dead on the ground, still and lifeless. But before he panicked, he saw her thin, delicate fingers move…He stood staring at her, shaking his sweaty hands in the air and looking around. He was told to never touch a woman except to shake her right hand.”), providing an unusual take on events that transpire. Even the perspectives of those involved in the human trafficking operation are revealed: “In a rare occasion, Andre failed to keep in mind that the weakest employees had the potential to bring down his entire operation. This time he allowed Vladimir sole authority to make the hiring decision; Vladimir’s instincts were usually right on target.

It’s these personal touches throughout that make True Mercy more than a story about human trafficking, but a saga of the human heart and a family’s special challenges.

Against such a backdrop, Adam and his father’s relationship unfolds. Adam isn’t just a tertiary adjunct in the story: he’s one of the central characters, who comes alive and stays alive throughout the process: “Where’s Marina, Daddy? Where’s Marina?” Adam asked endlessly as he stared out the front window, his hands waving. The more he asked, the more vigorously his hands waved, signaling his growing impatience.

A touch of evolving romance enhances an exceptional thriller which includes subtle, wry humor injected at unexpected moments, a logical progression of events and encounters between characters, and a moving story of healing and mercy that is far more emotionally-driven than an action read usually provides.
Readers who look for more than casual psychological depth in their thrillers will find True Mercy a revealing, involving story.”

–D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review