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Without Mercy

Obsession and Murder Under the Influence
Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On any Sunday morning in the Florida Redlands, Dee Casteel might have served you pancakes at the IHOP.

She was a hard-working, cheerful waitress, one of the nicest people you'd ever want to know. She was also a three-bottle-a-day alcoholic, hopelessly in love with the IHOP's manager, Allen Bryant. Bryant wanted his live-in lover, IHOP owner Art Venecia, dead. And Dee Casteel helped him to arrange it.

After Venecia's murder, Dee and Bryant moved into his house, forged checks, spent his money, and embezzled from the IHOP to buy gifts for Bryant's boyfriends. But there was an even more gruesome killing to come.

Without Mercy is an engrossing, bizarre true story that traces the twisted path to a loathsome crime. But it is also the story of middle-class citizens gone wrong, of an almost-perfect murder, the traumas of alcoholism, and a legal system that can be deadly in itself. Dee Casteel was an ordinary woman - who now stands convicted of one of the most cold-blooded crimes of this century.

©1989 Gail Stockwell (P)2017 David N. Wilson

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  • Stephanie
  • 08-02-2017

I Thoroughly Enjoyed This Book

Would you listen to Without Mercy again? Why?

I absolutely would. The writing was excellent. It flowed seamlessly, and felt as if it was someone just speaking. Many times with books, I find that the writing is distinctly separated from the story. It's very hard to explain, but Gary Provost has a style of writing that feels totally natural and allows you to place yourself *into* the story; as if you are standing right beside the characters, and not observing from the outside. It sucks you into the world of the story, and that is always an indicator of an excellent book.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Besides the writing, which draws you in without you even noticing, what I found most compelling was the story of a woman who found herself a key player in 2 murders. At the end of the book, I was conflicted in my feelings towards her. It's much easier to judge someone when you don't know what they've been through and what led them to make the choices they made. At the same time, she clearly made decisions that resulted in the deaths of 2 people and deserved to be punished. So at the end of the book, you ask yourself "was justice served?" I personally think it was, but part of me still felt sorry for her, and then I felt bad for feeling sorry for her. I like books that leave me conflicted. That means they have made me feel something.

What about Kevin Pierce’s performance did you like?

Kevin Pierce, as always, nailed the performance. I very much enjoy his narrations. He has a pleasant voice to listen to and uses pauses and inflection to enhance his performance. He also (Thank God) takes the time to learn how to pronounce names of people and places correctly, which I didn't know could be an issue until I heard another narrator slaughter all sorts of names in a very well-know and public true-crime case book. So now I have a whole new level of appreciation for narrators who pronounce words correctly. I don't hesitate to download any book narrated by Kevin Pierce.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It didn't make me laugh or cry, but it did leave me with mixed emotions, and that's rare for me with a true-crime book. I am not sure if that was the author's intention, but it was because of his thorough portrayal of Dee. He was able to write her in such a way that made her so identifiable. She wasn't a cold-blooded monster, and that made what she did hard to come to terms with. I was quite impressed with the impact this book had on my emotions. I didn't expect to get as involved as I did.

Any additional comments?

I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Manda
  • 05-02-2017

i couldn't stop listening

This was a very interesting story. The way the author wrote the story was perfect!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Philip
  • 25-01-2017

A more human, compelling narrative.

Kevin Pierce provides his avuncular and gravelly narrative to another True Crime novel. He's personally my favorite narrator for this genre, because his readings lack arrogance and seem to strive for understanding.

Gary Provost's Without Mercy is a slight twist on the TC formula, as he travels with those involved in the crimes more than the victims, and tries to piece together how their vile and/or tragic actions came into being, allowing the reader a wide angle from which to judge the scene. This books is just different enough that it's insightful, and while I can't call it a genre busting classic, it is definitely a good book and worth a read.

I was provided a free review copy of this work.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Polly Poizendem
  • 20-01-2017

Pancakes and Scotch To Go, Please...


As I listened, I felt as though this really could have happened almost anywhere, in any small town (where there's an IHOP, Lol), when the right combination of troubled personalities come together. Dee, an alcoholic waitress, was easily manipulated by the devious young gay IHOP manager that she became infatuated with, thus was very eager to please him.

She was more than willing to do cover-up favors for Allen related to his ongoing money and love drama problems. It was hard for her to resist his charms AND the liquor he often provided her with as well. Her main goal was to impress him and prove just how devoted she was, hoping she could "win him over" and that he would romantically turn to her. HE was just wanting someone ELSE to do all his dirty work. Well, as we all know, one thing quickly leads to another - and sure enough, this ball gets rolling pretty fast!!

Dee soon becomes his "right hand" woman, cleaning up after the numerous disasters left in his wake, while he recklessly goes on living "da vida loca" with his party friends and new lover (NOT Dee)... and continuing to rob the IHOP till daily to support his lifestyle. The only thing left that stands in his way however, is his clueless long term live-in boyfriend, the owner of the IHOP. According to Allen's plans, that's a small problem yet to be remedied which will also open the door to financial gain as well. And who is he gonna get to help him with that? Dee, of course. She firmly believes that lending him a hand to get out of a jam is not something she will ever get in trouble for, since SHE is not actually doing any of these crimes herself. Her blind willingness to help him makes this story even more interesting - reminds me of that phrase "Real Friends Help You Bury The Body". Or in this case two...

I really really got sucked into this story! I still cant believe how much they (initially) got away with! Sprinkle in some bits of Santeria, AND being stalked by a victims cat out for revenge - who says that truth can't possibly be stranger than fiction? Omg. Some of the many *awkward nervous situations* described made me chuckle. I WILL listen to this one again. Yep. Loved it!!

I thought this story was very well written. The narration was wonderful as I already knew it would be. Kevin Pierce adds that "Modern Day Dragnet" appeal with his delivery that is SO perfect for this genre. Thank You for taking me on this wild ride at the IHOP! It was great! :-)

(I was provided this audiobook via publisher/author/narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review)

7 people found this helpful

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  • richwire
  • 29-01-2017

Fast-paced story, felt like I was there.

I really liked this story because it didn't focus on the court case but the actual crimes themselves. At times I thought it was a bit sympathetic to Dee Casteel, when in reality she was just as evil as the others involved. Very well written and Kevin Pierce's performance brings the characters to life. Highly recommended.

“I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

9 people found this helpful

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  • Missy
  • 17-05-2017

Good story, maybe not the best telling

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Sure - It's an interesting story. The author gives LOTS of details.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

If I had a shot every time the author uses the word, "alcoholic", I'd be dead after the first chapter. We get it, dude. She had a drinking problem. Can we hear about any of the other folks now?

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Always good. Can't complain about his narrations.

Do you think Without Mercy needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arius
  • 11-05-2017

An almost sympathetic murderer

What did you love best about Without Mercy?

The story was compassionate, but not overly so, for the main subject of the story. Some might argue it spends too much time humanizing her and not the victims, but I think there's something valuable in getting that humanization - that you can never tell.

What other book might you compare Without Mercy to and why?

It's hard to find something sufficiently close. All the other true crime books don't have someone who seemed mostly duped into murder.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This one is easily as good as the others. It may even be the best one, with the multiple voices being sufficiently distinct.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The nicest person you meet could hire your killer

Any additional comments?

It's easy to feel sympathetic towards Dee Casteel, the woman at the center of the story. She almost was disconnected from it all, believing that since she was part of a conspiracy, she was not as culpable as the originator or the executors of the conspiracy. she didn't even profit from it. But the fact is, she helped arrange the murders, and ended up on death row.

The book does need an update, based on what I found upon googling her.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Johnny
  • 02-05-2017

Some of the stupidest people I have ever heard of.

What did you love best about Without Mercy?

To see and be amazed again at how really stupid people can be.

What did you like best about this story?

That Dee, in protecting her daughter, the star witness against her, shown noble by telling her child to tell the truth.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Love all of his narrations. When I see his name, I want to listen. He can make a book about drapery seem interesting.

If you could give Without Mercy a new subtitle, what would it be?

Yes: Could There Be Any Woman More Stupid. Really, though, I yelled at her as I listened: DON'T YOU SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!!.

Any additional comments?

I was blown away that Dee, a really nice person, and smart, did not see that she was a part in these senseless murders. Her stupidity (forgive me) took my breath away...

2 people found this helpful

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  • jen H
  • 13-03-2017

Crazy wasted lives

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! I would highly recommend this book!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Without Mercy?

That everyone went along with things. Seemed like everyone was trying to "impress" each other.

Which character – as performed by Kevin Pierce – was your favorite?

I think Kevin does an excellent job with all the characters. He really makes each character stand out and very easy to follow.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have loved to listen to this book in one sitting but I have two jobs and raising two boys! I listened to it every chance I got for sure!!

Any additional comments?

I received this audio book at no cost in exchange for a fair and honest review.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 25-02-2017

An Unexpected Favorite

I received this title for free in exchange for an unbiased review, and I honestly might not have read it otherwise. The description seemed a little . . . unspectacular, maybe? But from the first paragraphs it was clear that this story was in the hands of a stylist, a genuine writer instead of just a crime reporter. The opening completely grabbed me, and the story never flagged, never once slowed. If you read a lot of non-fiction crime books as I do, you know that isn't all that common even in the good ones. The stories often drag in parts before picking up again a few chapters later. But the story of this alcoholic IHOP waitress, her fascinatingly immoral boss and the people they killed for the most mundane --- and therefore horrific --- of reasons kept my attention from beginning to end.

Perhaps it was the bizarre juxtaposition of fairly drab, hyper-normal people --- this could literally have been about the waitress who served you your flapjacks the last time you were at an IHOP -- with the unbelievably despicable and horrifying acts they committed that made it so compelling. Nothing against IHOP at all, of course --- I've always enjoyed my meals there, and the waitresses all seemed like truly lovely, non-homicidal people. But the thought that these murderous conversations could have been taking place in the kitchen while I was wiping the last of the syrup off my plate with a pancake makes the whole sad, sordid story more personal and a lot more intriguing. Perhaps it was also the slow, inevitable slide that the characters took -- going from one easily avoidable bad judgement call to another, going from being moms, lovers, waitresses and restaurant managers to being multiple murderers. It was like watching a multi-car crash in slow motion, from the moment the first average, everyday driver looked at their cell phone a moment too long, through the resulting collisions that envelop car after car, to the aftermath of unimaginable mechanical and human carnage. Whatever the reason, it all added up to one of the most unexpectedly compelling, well-written true crime stories I've read in a while. I'm also really glad I listened to it rather than reading it, because the narrator was excellent, and nicely suited to the material.

So if the description of this book looks at all interesting to you, I think you'll enjoy it. If the description seems a little . . . unspectacular to you, I think you'll enjoy it even more -- the surprise certainly made an already great book even more enjoyable for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MURIEL CASSERLY - Leitrim Caravan Hire
  • 06-02-2019

Another great book

Hi seem to be going through all of Gary Provosts books. I love them and I love Kevin Pierce as Narrator

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  • Moimeme
  • 21-08-2017

Well narrated, personalised

The writer at times veers toward second person; it's rare and insightful to hear a story from the perspective of what might have taken place in the victim's mind as they were attacked. Good length, empathetic yet objective. Overall, solidly done