Book Review: Mercy Row Retribution by Harry Hallman

mrrfrontcoverfinal copyTitle: Mercy Row Retribution
Author: Harry Hallman
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

While serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, Gerry Amota, the grandson of Jacob Byrne, the head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family, seizes an opportunity to create a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation. It’s 1967 and under the secrecy of a classified military operation and with the assistance of a French Marseille Mob, who owns plantations in Cambodia, he is able to send tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana a month to Philadelphia. His grandfather’s criminal enterprise distributes the drug to a population who has developed and insatiable appetite for the marijuana.

A rival French from Paris gang tries to force Amato to buy their product and this triggers war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob.  From the steamy jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia, to the streets of Saigon, Paris and Philadelphia the ruthless actions of the Paris mob threatens to destroy the Byrne family. Gerry Amato orchestrates merciless campaign of retribution against his foes in order to save himself and his family.

In part two of Mercy Row Retribution, the third book in the Byrne family saga, it is April 1975 and South Vietnam is about to fall to the North Vietnamese communist. Gerry Amato fears that the communists will take revenge on the population and especially children, many of whom are Amerasian, at an orphanage he supported and volunteered at during his time as a Pilot. He orchestrates a rescue mission to retrieve the children and bring them to the United States. This takes him and his team into harm’s way in Thailand, across Cambodia and into worn torn Vietnam and back. The fate of 75 children and 30 adults rest squarely on Gerry’s shoulders.

In Mercy Row Retribution, Gerry Amota is the grandson of Jacob Byrne, head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family. Some of the family businesses are legitimate, others not so much. While serving the airforce during the Vietnam war, Gerry sees a way of making money by creating a marijuana smuggling cooperation. His organization soon sends ten of thousands of pounds of marijuana to Philadelphia a month. When a rival Paris gang tries to force Gerry to buy their product, this triggers a war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob.

I quite enjoyed reading about the exploits of the Byrne family. It surprised me how they could be so “good” on the one hand, and still be quite evil on the other, running orphanages while at the same time not hesitating to kill people. It was quite the contradiction, and you’d think it wouldn’t work well, but it did. The crooked standards made for an interesting read, and it was very engaging to dive into the minds of people like Gerry Amota, who have their own, although slightly off, code of moral conduct.

The book reads like an action movie. Gun fights, kidnapping, the mob, violence, and most of all revenge. It’s a fast-paced, thrilling read and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys action movies, thrillers and crime fiction.


  1. Huh this sounds interesting! I don’t think I’ve read anythnig like this before, very interesting premise. I do think it’s fascinating how someone can be in the mob or whatever and still have good qualities, but also kill people. 🙂 It would be interesting to see that explored…

  2. Thank you for the review. I think you hit my concept on the head. A good religious family, with big hearts who believe that what they do that is illegible is okay especially if the also do good. The only kill when they are threatened. People are like that. The can justify certain things while being basically nice people. I have met people like this.
    In book one, Mercy Row, it is the character Mercy who established the families philanthropic tendencies. In book two, Mercy Row Clann, we learn that Jake, a very violent man, has a soft spot for animals. This leads to his involvement in the shelter in book 3 Mercy Row Retribution.

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