Author: Lori Armstrong
Purchase: No Mercy: A Mystery
From the Author:
Mercy Gunderson is a straight shooter with a hard edge. On medical leave from the Army, she returns home to South Dakota, which isn’t much safer for her than Iraq. Arriving just after the death of her father, it is up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch. Trying to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew and feeling guilty that she didn’t make it home soon enough to see her father one last time; Mercy is suddenly pulled into the local community when the body of a Native American boy is found on her land. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it, especially not the local law enforcement.
When tragedy strikes again, Mercy is ready to throw all her energy into her own investigation, and she’s out for revenge. As she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, Mercy uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.
The main character, Mercy Gunderson, is a very complex woman. She has been in the army for the last 20 years and has only come home to South Dakota on the occasional leave. Her family never really knew what she did in the army because it has been a secret, she was an army sniper. Her family thought she drove convoy trucks. Throughout most of the book you realize that Mercy is dealing with a truck load of guilt and with feelings of not belonging anywhere. Her family owns the largest or at least one of the largest cattle ranches in South Dakota but she has been haunted by horrible memories of her mother's death (she feels responsible for this event) and the death of her sister's childhood friend (somehow she feels guilty for this too). Now she has added missing her father's final days and death to her list of things to feel guilty about, never mind that she herself was in the hospital suffering from an injury that would end her military career.
While Mercy is trying to come to grips with the responsibility of either keeping or selling her family's ranch and watching over her fragile sister and nephew, things start to go wrong. A Lakota boy is found dead on their ranch and no one seems to know why he is dead or if it was an accident or a murder. Things are complicated in that the former sheriff was Mercy's dad and his replacement is not exactly living up to what people expect. The new sheriff, Dawson, is a former marine and was hand picked by Mercy's dad, but she doesn't understand why her dad picked him and there is some tension at the beginning. It also doesn't help that Mercy is very attracted to him on a physical level, but there is no trust. One thing leads to another and Mercy ends up agreeing to investigate the young man's death, only to have tragedy strike her family again.
There are 2 more deaths that take place during Mercy's investigation into what is going wrong in her part of South Dakota. She also ends up finding out about some of her family's secrets and about dealing with situations and relationships that she has run away from all of her life. She finally also starts to respect Dawson and they begin to act on their mutual attraction.
I did not see the resolution of the mystery and murders that took place coming. I was leaning towards one character in the book being resposible for everything, only to find out that there was more involved and part of it dealt with Mercy's family's past. At the end, Mercy has finally come to terms with herself, the end of her military career, and feels that she is finally home.
I truely enjoyed reading this book. I do feel that I need to state that Ms. Armstrong did a very fine job in her description of South Dakota and with the situation on the reservations. She has written another series of books, The Julie Collins series, that also deals with aspects of how America continues to deal with and make mistakes with the Native Tribes. There is a rape that takes place in this book, however, it is mostly discussed as something in the past and it takes place off scene.
I would highly recommend this book to lovers of mystery and strong alpha type women.