Why `sort of'? Mercy Falls is a self-contained novel, not the first segment of a pure two-parter, but there are loose threads at the end and you have to read Copper River to complete the story.
Mercy Falls: Cork is shot at by a sniper and his deputy Marsha Dross is actually hit--seriously, but not fatally. Then a body is found, the body of Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago sleazoid negotiating a casino contract with the Ojibwe. He's been killed and also castrated.
Eddie's got a brother named Ben who was involved with Cork's wife, Jo, back in their law school days at the University of Chicago. Ben's still carrying a torch for her and there are suspicions all around that he's trying to get back in her life, perhaps by having Cork taken out.
Ben sends out a PI who's ex-FBI, with a body to match her skills at detection. Her job is to be Ben's eyes and ears and keep the investigation of Eddie's murder on track. She seems to be falling for Cork; can she be trusted?
When a bomb turns up in Cork's car, his family is hustled off to Chicago, so that the girls can visit Northwestern and Notre Dame (to which they each aspire) and stay with Jo's sister and her ex-priest husband. When Jo goes off the radar Cork comes to Chicago and investigates. He pretty much cracks the case but is then targeted for a contract hit by Eddie and Ben's criminal father, Lou.
[Spoiler alert] Cork goes on the lam and the hoods seeking a 500K payoff are in pursuit. Copper River begins with Cork suffering a bullet wound to his leg but escaping to a resort camp run by his cousin on Michigan's upper peninsula.
Note: I have picked up the story in my review of Copper River. Check it out.
Mercy Falls is a solid episode in the Cork O'Connor series. I wouldn't put it at the top but it's better than nearly everything else out there. It lacks some of the energy and drive of the other books and I must confess that I find the stresses and strains on Cork/Jo's marriage just a bit off-putting after awhile. Still, I devoured the book and recommend it highly. Four and a half stars. Copper River is better and introduces a set of very interesting characters. Don't miss either one.