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Mercury's Choice


Mercury's Choice

Kyler James, former actor and professional psychic, can often be seen wearing a wizard’s hat while reading cards in Washington Square Park. Yet James is a man of many talents. In fact, his first novel, THE SECRET OF THE RED TRUCK, sold out in most New York City bookstores. Now, he dazzles us again with his second book, MERCURY’S CHOICE.

This is a psychological suspense tale about a sexually liberated genius of a painter and intellectual, Davis Jarvey, who resides in the Big Apple. At the onset of the novel, the narrator grabs you by the throat, thrusting you into a story of murder, psychological delusions and magical realism. The first paragraph shows James’ offbeat writing style:

“I’ve always known, ever since I was a little boy, that one day I would kill someone. I never told anyone this, however --- not even my mother --- or any of my psychiatrists. That’s why I’m telling you now from this strange place in which I find myself. Such a very strange place; not at all what I expected. And what a surprise! Life is full of surprises, but death is full of certainty.”

"At the onset of the novel, the narrator grabs you by the throat, thrusting you into a story of murder, psychological delusions and magical realism."

In a few sentences, James’ talent to draw you into the protagonist’s world is evident. Davis speaks directly to the reader, and we just might be scared to get too close. The opening sentence keeps us hooked as we yearn to uncover more about Davis. Who did he murder? And after a man at The Metropolitan Opera, John, asks him out, why does he feel that their destiny is fatal?

James’ characters are sexually fluid and intellectual, and forge their own paths. In the opening scene, it’s during the intermission of Wagner’s Parsifal that he spots two men with linked arms. This is when we meet the infamous John, the man who drives Davis mad. Or is he already spiraling out of control? John asks him out alone, yet later they meet at a bar where his friend Ludwig is also in attendance. This irks Davis, and we’re thrust into a web of his thoughts. Davis doesn’t like Madonna, Gloria Gaynor or groups of three. In fact, he hates small talk and cannot stand when people try to outdo one another in laughter. At the end of the night, John reveals that he’s an autograph dealer and invites Davis to his office the next day, the beginning of the end.

When Davis paints, the god Mercury circles above his head, showing the magic dispersed throughout the book and the protagonist’s eccentric personality. He runs off to meet John at his office, and they set up a date. Throughout these scenes, we are further drawn into Davis’ psyche. He is paranoid, and often speaks to himself and the goddess Diana, to whom he calls out for help. This is further emphasized when he sees a psychic, and she hands him back his money, concerned that he must see a shrink, hinting not so subtly that his future has an air of doom. When John invites Davis to London, and then makes a mistake, Davis says that John already has two strikes against him. One more, and he’s out --- dead. Davis has been scorned one too many times, and he hates liars.

MERCURY’S CHOICE takes us on a psychological ride. We travel throughout New York City and London, exploring artist’s lofts, museums, restaurants and cryptic Gnostic masses. The god Mercury appears to Davis in dreams and visions, his paintings provoking these appearances. Mercury asks Davis to choose between him and his staff. When Davis comes to this decision, there will be no turning back. In fact, there is no turning back when concerning any of Davis’ choices, the strong-willed character that he is. This novel is a mystery waiting to unfold. In the end, we want to know what Davis’ choice will be.

Reviewed by Bianca Ambrosio on November 30, 2018

Mercury's Choice
by Kyler James