Mercy Kill

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Mercy Kill

Intense, dark and very realistic are just a few words to describe Lori Armstrong’s newest mystery Mercy Kill.

Mercy Gunderson has decided to retire from the military after being injured. She will never have the sight she once had and as a sniper it was either retire or take a desk job. She retired. She thought she would work on her family’s ranch but that just wasn’t enough. While she tried to figure out what next, a friend offered her a part time position at his bar which has turned into full time. This isn’t what she wants either.

Her life changes when a friend from the past, Major Jason Hawley comes into town working for an oil company. The oil company wants to run a pipe line across several ranchers and the ranchers are against it. Jason’s job is to convince them to allow it to happen or at least, to make them less hostile to the idea. It’s going to happen regardless. This doesn’t make Jason a well liked person so when he is found dead in the parking lot of the bar, no one really cares except Mercy.

Once again, Mercy thinks local sheriff, Mason Dawson, isn’t doing his job. It seems he likes to campaign more than investigate. So, when Mercy is approached to campaign against him, she accepts.

Mixed in this this story is Mercy’s sister, Hope with her new baby, Hope’s husband and ranch foreman, Jake Red Leif and many of the characters we came to love in No Mercy. Add this time is an old Army friend, Anna who stirs things up as she is Jason’s ex and truly loved him.

Will Mercy win her bid to be sheriff? Will Jason’s killer be found? And, how long is Anna staying?

Once again, Ms Armstrong puts her readers into South Dakota and gives them description that allows them to actually be there. We learn that spring is a very short season and prairie dogs make good target practice. There aren’t paragraph with descriptors but words placed in perfect places to bring a picture to your mind. From falling apart trailers to wild flowers popping up, you can see this stark land awakening from a long winter.

The characters are awesome. Mercy wrestles with decisions, some she wants to make, some she’s forced to make and some she doesn’t want to make. She’s having problems adjusting to civilian life. She’s having nightmares and flashbacks. Things most of her friends and family wouldn’t understand, just like they don’t understand her close friendship with those she served with. All of these things make Mercy real and complex. Dawson has his own life and desires. He’d like them to mesh with Mercy’s but he’s not compromising on some issues and can’t share others. This can make life interesting but depending on Mercy’s choices, it can also make it lonely.

One of the things Ms Armstrong is best at is taking real life issues and putting them into her stories. An oil pipe line is a perfect an example of this. She gives everyone’s reasoning and side, taking none herself. Things aren’t black and white but shades of gray. She also addresses an issue many returning veterans have, PTSD. It’s real and it’s hard sometimes to ask for the help you need. However, it’s also something that veterans from pervious wars can identify with and usually are there to help, like Rollie, a Vietnam vet, with Mercy.

So, who did it? That’s a great question. Almost as good as who is going to figure it out first. It definitely wasn’t me. Lots of suspects and lots of motives come out as the story progresses.

I absolutely loved this book. I will admit that sometimes it got too intense and I had to take a short break but it also had me so wrapped up in the story, that break was very short. I didn’t see who did it until the end.

The complexity of this story was amazing. Several things were going on at once with nothing and no one operating in a vacuum or by themselves. Between personal relationships, professional relationships and family there is enough going on to keep Mercy occupied. But as always, she’s impulsive and can be deadly.

I hurt for Mercy and with Mercy and cheered her on and wanted a happily ever after for her. What I got was real life and as Mercy’s life hasn’t ended, neither have her problems, issues, hopes and fears. An unexpected window of opportunity has opened for Mercy. Now, weather she takes it or not is another issues and one I hope to see answered in her next book.

Mercy is still stirring things up in South Dakota and I truly hope she doesn’t stop any time soon.


Book Blurb for Mercy Kill

Former Black Ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson isn't adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family's ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy's former army buddy, to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley's presence riles the landowners, and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley's brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for reelection than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley's killer-even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county's dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.


Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2011 5.00