White Noise

By Mercedes Mercier

Publisher/Year: HarperCollins/2022

Publisher’s blurb

When prison psychologist Dr Laura Fleming is assigned charismatic inmate Justin Jones to assess for parole, alarm bells ring. Working with some of the state’s most damaged criminals, she knows Jones is too dangerous to release, but he’s got everyone fooled . . . She needs proof.

Laura knows all about damage. Her own painful mistakes have destroyed her marriage and she’s been refused access to her daughter. Step by agonising step, she’s rebuilding her life and her relationships, but it’s a hard road. What does she have to do to prove she can be trusted?

Laura’s not taking any chances with Jones, and as she races to find evidence before his parole hearing, she digs deep into his life – and is shocked by what she finds.

But as she edges closer to the truth, Laura falls victim to a series of increasingly personal attacks, and secrets from her past threaten to unhinge everything she holds dear – her job, her family . . . even her sanity.

Sometimes redemption is out of reach. But revenge will do just fine.

Reviewer: Sally Bothroyd

White Noise is a great title for this debut novel by Mercedes Mercier (who also has a great name for an author). White Noise introduces readers to Dr Laura Fleming, a psychologist with a history darkened by past trauma that’s left her with severe tinnitus.

The story begins when Dr Fleming is called on to interview an apparently well-behaved prison inmate who’s up for parole. Her experience tells her something is not right, and she refuses to be rushed into recommending parole without performing her own due diligence.

She digs into the inmate’s past, and the more she uncovers, the more she is convinced that the man is dangerous and should not be released. Her bid to uncover the truth puts her career on the line and leads her to discoveries about her own past.

White Noise is the kind of thriller that draws in the reader from the first page and doesn’t drop the pace until the gripping conclusion. The novel is a fast read, and Mercier must also be a fast write, as the sequel Black Lies (also featuring Dr Laura Fleming) is due for release in June this year.

For me White Noise brought to mind the twisty, fast-paced legal thrillers of lawyer-turned-writer John Grisham, and Mercier’s history working in the criminal justice system shows on the page. Her detailed depiction of prison life is harrowingly convincing, despite the novel being set in a fictional prison.

Mercedes Mercier is a new Australian author with a bright future, and I can’t wait to read more!