Author: Lori Armstrong
Series: Mercy Gunderson (Book 1)
Publication: Touchstone (January 12, 2010)
Description: 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 and try to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew. 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 an Indian 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.
My Thoughts: Mercy is on medical leave from the Army and back home in South Dakota dealing with things after the death of her father. She has been an Army sniper doing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan but an injury has damaged her vision in her right eye. Now she has to deal with issues at home. Her younger sister is secretly dating a newcomer to town and is pregnant. Her teenage nephew is having conflicts with his mother and with the local Indian gang he wants to join but who isn't letting him in because he's not Indian enough. Local and not so local land developers are pressuring Mercy to sell.
When a young Indian boy is found dead on her land, Mercy is encouraged by the boy's mother to investigate. The mother doesn't feel that the new sheriff who was handpicked by Mercy's father is doing enough. When Mercy's nephew is also murdered, Mercy becomes determined to find out who caused his death despite the local sheriff telling her to back off.
Mercy is an interesting character with lots of anger issues who does a lot of hard drinking to deal with them. Despite being gone most of the last twenty years, Mercy has a network of friends in the area to help her investigate. She also has lots of guilt. She missed her father's funeral but isn't able to share that she was hurt and in the hospital at the time. She has a difficult relationship with the ranch foreman who was her boyfriend before she miscarried his baby and left home to join the Army. Her relationship with her sister is also difficult. They both had awful childhoods with Mercy seeing her mother kicked to death by a horse and her sister accidentally shooting a childhood friend. There is an awful lot of trauma going around.
This was a fascinating story well set in its place - the beautiful but desolate land in western South Dakota. Mercy was also a fascinating and complex character.
He had been shot once in the head. Once in the heart.I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.
I fell to my knees and touched his cheek. His skin felt warm. Supple. He hadn't been out her long. A gust of wind swirled his hair, and the strands slowly floated down to conceal his face. I frantically brushed them away, I never liked it when he hid behind his hair.
I sat down hard as the finality hit me.