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The Sharp Edge of Mercy

The Sharp Edge of Mercy - Connie Hertzberg Mayo

The Sharp Edge of Mercy


NEW YORK CITY, 1890: Lillian Dolan is optimistic about her new job at the New York Cancer Hospital after dreaming for years of becoming a nurse. But she struggles to fit in, and her only friend at the hospital is Jupiter, a Black man who runs the crematorium. When the confident Dr. Bauer arrives as the new surgeon and takes a shine to Lillian, she is thrilled to be noticed. Lillian has been warned not to get too close to the patients, but Mrs. Sokolova draws her in, and Lillian wins praise from the nurses for making progress with a difficult patient. But when Mrs. Sokolova's situation becomes dire, she puts Lillian in an impossible situation-all while Lillian slowly loses control of her relationship with Dr. Bauer. Her decision to help her patient throws her life into chaos, and Jupiter may be the only person who can help her with the choice before her: capitulate to Dr. Bauer's demands or face possible arrest.


"Mayo's novel not only offers a close look at health care at the turn of the 20th century, but also addresses the racial, class, and sexual tensions that existed alongside strict, bigoted Victorian-era standards of morality. Mayo brings her characters and settings to life with deft prose and careful research. Her descriptions of the crowded streets of New York are visceral and authentic...A compelling and diverse historical novel."

-Kirkus Reviews


"A timely novel that speaks of racism, economic disparities, and the role of the frontline healthcare workers in the hospital setting. Author Connie Hertzberg Mayo opens a captivating window into a bygone era that reminds us that as much as things change, some things stay the same. This is a beautifully written book you won't put down until the last page."

-NY Times Best Selling Author Lynne Hinton, author of The Beekeeper's Wife and The View From Here



"THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a stunning tale of a woman caught between the ethics of the day and the truth of the human heart. Mayo writes with enormous eloquence, transporting the reader into the distant past in a manner that feels familiar and immersive. An absolutely riveting book!"

-Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret



"Rich in period detail, THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a deeply immersive look at a New York City hospital at the end of the 19th century. With her well-drawn characters and crisp prose, Hertzberg Mayo's novel is a treat to read. I look forward to whatever she does next."

-Stacey Murphy, author of the Amelia Matthew Mystery series



"Readers who loved Addison Armstrong's The Light of Luna Park, and Susan Meissner's The Nature of Fragile Things will enjoy author Connie Mayo's story of shattering secrets, of perseverance, and of love of family above all else."

-Tracey Enerson Wood, author of International and USA Today Best Seller The Engineer's Wife and The War Nurse



"The Sharp Edge of Mercy is a powerful and gripping story of inner strength, determination, and the imbalance of power. With sharp dialogue and a rich setting, this work of historical fiction had me rooting for Lillian from the first pages."

-Emily Cavanagh, author of Her Guilty Secret and Everybody Lies




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NEW YORK CITY, 1890: Lillian Dolan is optimistic about her new job at the New York Cancer Hospital after dreaming for years of becoming a nurse. But she struggles to fit in, and her only friend at the hospital is Jupiter, a Black man who runs the crematorium. When the confident Dr. Bauer arrives as the new surgeon and takes a shine to Lillian, she is thrilled to be noticed. Lillian has been warned not to get too close to the patients, but Mrs. Sokolova draws her in, and Lillian wins praise from the nurses for making progress with a difficult patient. But when Mrs. Sokolova's situation becomes dire, she puts Lillian in an impossible situation-all while Lillian slowly loses control of her relationship with Dr. Bauer. Her decision to help her patient throws her life into chaos, and Jupiter may be the only person who can help her with the choice before her: capitulate to Dr. Bauer's demands or face possible arrest.


"Mayo's novel not only offers a close look at health care at the turn of the 20th century, but also addresses the racial, class, and sexual tensions that existed alongside strict, bigoted Victorian-era standards of morality. Mayo brings her characters and settings to life with deft prose and careful research. Her descriptions of the crowded streets of New York are visceral and authentic...A compelling and diverse historical novel."

-Kirkus Reviews


"A timely novel that speaks of racism, economic disparities, and the role of the frontline healthcare workers in the hospital setting. Author Connie Hertzberg Mayo opens a captivating window into a bygone era that reminds us that as much as things change, some things stay the same. This is a beautifully written book you won't put down until the last page."

-NY Times Best Selling Author Lynne Hinton, author of The Beekeeper's Wife and The View From Here



"THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a stunning tale of a woman caught between the ethics of the day and the truth of the human heart. Mayo writes with enormous eloquence, transporting the reader into the distant past in a manner that feels familiar and immersive. An absolutely riveting book!"

-Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret



"Rich in period detail, THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a deeply immersive look at a New York City hospital at the end of the 19th century. With her well-drawn characters and crisp prose, Hertzberg Mayo's novel is a treat to read. I look forward to whatever she does next."

-Stacey Murphy, author of the Amelia Matthew Mystery series



"Readers who loved Addison Armstrong's The Light of Luna Park, and Susan Meissner's The Nature of Fragile Things will enjoy author Connie Mayo's story of shattering secrets, of perseverance, and of love of family above all else."

-Tracey Enerson Wood, author of International and USA Today Best Seller The Engineer's Wife and The War Nurse



"The Sharp Edge of Mercy is a powerful and gripping story of inner strength, determination, and the imbalance of power. With sharp dialogue and a rich setting, this work of historical fiction had me rooting for Lillian from the first pages."

-Emily Cavanagh, author of Her Guilty Secret and Everybody Lies




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