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Welcome home, Mercy
on January 8, 2010
Mercy Gunderson is one of the few female Army snipers. Officially, they don't exist but unofficially, women can get into some hot spot better than men. Mercy's been into more than she'd care to admit. Currently, she's on leave at her family's ranch in South Dakota. Her father recently died and she's the executor of his estate. Her remaining family is her sister, Holly and her nephew, Levi.
Bad things are happening in Mercy's little county though. A friend of Levi's is found dead on her ranch. Levi seems to be having problems. Holly has a new boyfriend that Mercy just doesn't feel right about. Rumors of some kind of club on the reservation have people concerned, as do the new people that bought the ranch nearby.
Mercy has her own problems though. Besides not being able to decide if she should sell the ranch, she has medical problems from her last mission. She has the time in the military to retire but she doesn't know if she wants to. If she stays in though, she'll never be able to do the job she's been doing. She'll be forced into a desk job or a training position.
Mason Dawson was appointed acting sheriff by Mercy's father before he died. He plans on running for sheriff but right now Mercy doesn't see what he's doing to investigate the death of Levi's friend. She's not too sure she trusts him either but he is good to look at!
You can't just ease into this story, it comes at you fast and hard with a teenage death in the first few pages. This hard punching story doesn't slow down or quit from start to finish. It's fast paced with lots going on giving the reader a lot to ponder as you try to figure out who's behind all the things happening.
Mercy is not a sweet bit of fluff or even a typical ranch girl. She's hard because she's had to be. She also has standards and a code she lives by. She cares deeply for her family so don't even think to hurt them or Mercy will go hunting. She's a complex character that has so many facets that it would take a lifetime to figure her out. The military left it's mark and that mark helps make up who Mercy will become.
One of the best assets of this book are the descriptions. Ms Armstrong does an outstanding job describing the characters but her descriptions of the land, buildings and community are exceptional. I've never been to South Dakota yet I could visualize the landscape as Mercy traveled along the county roads. Buildings weren't pristine; some needed paint, derelict or just barely together while others were well loved. With just a few words, this part of country came alive.
I didn't want to put this book down. Though I was fairly sure early on I knew who the murder was, I felt driven to see how Mercy would get him and what would happen next. Well, I should have known that an award winning author would have some twists and turns up her sleeve and the answer wouldn't be as easy as I thought. Her ending was much better than I could have ever imagined.
Now, that I've been introduced to Mercy, I want more. It looks to me like life is going to get interesting in that part of the world!