Title: A Borrowing of Bones (Mercy and Elvis Mysteries) by Paula Munier
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Animal, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press-Minotaur Books
Publication Date: To be released Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: A Borrowing of Bones – I still maintain that if it has a dog on the cover, it has to be good.
“ Grief and guilt are the ghosts that haunt you when you survive what others do not….”
Retired MP and Afghanistan vet Mercy Carr and the Belgian Malinois she brought home after a six-month battle to retrieve the highly trained ex-bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis, are living a quiet life. Mercy exercises the high energy canine early every morning continuing a bonding regime from his former handler and her deceased fiancé Martinez. That is, until this morning when the dog suddenly darts into the dense underbrush and alerts to a baby.
Unfortunately, it is the July 4th holiday in the Lye Brook Wilderness of the Vermont mountains and one of the few and closest of law enforcement is U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner. Troy has a search-and-rescue Newfoundland mix he calls Susie Bear. Elvis has also alerted to explosives and together their dogs discover human bones. So much for private and quiet!
I loved the detailed descriptions of the dog’s separate instincts and insights into their respective training. Both were painted with emotive and loving portrayals and didn’t take long to fall in love with both totally different dogs in size, appearance, and temperament.
Mercy is a maverick, separated from her well educated, professional parents to enter the military and returned wounded with PTSD. She is driven, wholly and completely, to find and assure that the baby and her mother are safe and cared for. She spouts quotes from Shakespeare and there were a few times her OCD became just a little annoying. Troy, also a military vet, is from the same town, a few years older, and enjoys his job–both he and his dog are lower key.
I also enjoyed the obvious love of the Vermont state, the history, its people, and the sketches of the land. The story creates a strong multi-protagonist bond in the foursome, the animals as much a force as the humans. Along with Mercy, her grandmother Patience (a local veterinarian and cook/baker extraordinaire) evokes a strong support character presence, Troy’s captain being another. The dialogue between Mercy and her grandmother provide a few chuckles and head nods.
Overall, a strong, complex, and well-plotted and researched narrative that moves at a fair pace, keeping engagement, and only slowing somewhat in the middle to provide additional background. I had to question the choice of (human) foods provided the dogs, which didn’t seem appropriate to me for two large working canines. Mercy seems to possess well beyond a normal human (man or woman) endurance and I wondered when she was ever going to sleep, much less heal. Troy is cute and a keeper.
The pace speeds toward the nail-biting and explosive conclusion and then the dust is allowed to settle at an informal dinner/epilogue that answers the questions and sets the scene for the next in the series.
I received this download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. This debut in the series appears to be off to a successful start. It promises a unique mystery platform as well as breath-holding suspense and police procedurals. Hands down, the dogs take middle stage and I’m looking forward to reading how the relationships progress. Wholly recommended for all who enjoy a canine-driven mystery, interesting and complex male/female protagonist team, and the beauty of Vermont and their distinctive Yankee spirit.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: PAULA MUNIER is the author of A BORROWING OF BONES, the first in a new series from Minotaur Books, as well as the bestselling PLOT PERFECT, THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO BEGINNINGS, WRITING WITH QUIET HANDS, and FIXING FREDDIE: A True Story of a Boy, a Mom, and a Very, Very Bad Beagle. She was inspired to write A Borrowing of Bones by the hero working dogs she met through MissionK9Rescue, her own Newfoundland retriever mix rescue Bear, and a lifelong passion for crime fiction.
A popular writing teacher and public speaker, Paula began her career as a journalist, and along the way added editor, acquisitions specialist, digital content manager, and publishing executive to her repertoire, working for such media giants as WGBH, Disney, Gannett, F&W Media, and Quayside. In 2012, she joined Talcott Notch Literary Services as Senior Literary Agent and Content Strategist. Her specialties include crime fiction, women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, MG and crossover YA, high-concept SFF, and nonfiction.
She lives in New England with her family, Bear, Freddie, and a torbie tabby named Ursula.
©2018 V Williams