With her “Marcy Carr” series, including the new “Blind Search,” Paula Munier checks all the boxes as to what makes a successful, gripping mystery. First and foremost, the main character, Mercy, and the former military working dog, Elvis, are likable and realistic. Elvis was her fiancee’s military working dog, and when he was killed, both his fiancé and his dog suffered greatly. Mercy is far from perfect, and she admits that the issue preventing her and Elvis from becoming search and rescue dogs is that they both sometimes lack warmth when dealing with people.
Actually though, in this story, both appear very warm and approachable. When Elvis comes across a dead woman in the forest, Mercy secures the scene. The dead woman was a guest of Daniel Feinberg, a local billionaire who owns much of the land in this mountainous area of Vermont. The only witness to the killing is the young son of one of Feinberg’s employees, Ethan Jenkins, someone from the Northshire area who had moved to New York to work for the billionaire. His wife had left him and their son, Henry. Henry is autistic and loves math. He refuses to talk about what, if anything, he saw. And once he meets Mercy and Elvis, and Troy Warner and his search and rescue dog, Susie, he feels safe only with them. Both dogs become the boy’s steady companions.
Troy and Susie were introduced in the first book. Troy is a game warden and, like Mercy, very at home in the Vermont woods. Their dogs are fast friends, and Mercy finds herself attracted to someone for the first time since her fiancé was killed in Afghanistan.
The local detective, a very obnoxious and overdressed phony named Kai Harrington, is irritated that Mercy and Troy are first on the scene for a subsequent murder, and he orders them to stand down. Neither of them chooses to listen, and Feinberg actually hires Mercy to investigate further and find out who the murderer is. And Mercy does figure it all out eventually, at about the same time as the reader does.
There’s much to really enjoy in this mystery. Aside from the main characters (and dogs), the other characters are well drawn and fascinating, including the wealthy scion of a Vermont family whose friends from prep school are not all what they appear to be, including the scion’s wife. The Vermont setting is also depicted in detail, making non-New Englanders want to become “peepers,” as the fall visitors who have come to see the autumn colors are called. Mercy’s grandmother, Patience, is a veterinarian, and her calming presence helps keep Mercy’s life in order.
The plot is intricate, and at one point, Mercy visits the rather unusual prep school most of the billionaire’s guests attended. She wants to investigate the history of this elite group of students, who have remained friends decades later. Two of the billionaire’s guests end up being murdered — one with a bow and arrow and the other with a crossbow. Readers learn that while a bow and arrow requires considerable skill, it’s pretty easy to use a crossbow.
In this delightful murder mystery there are subplots and mysteries within mysteries galore. There is also a touch of romance. Above all, there are dogs. Lots of dogs all doing wonderful things like keeping children safe, following bad guys, and finding a long-buried murder victim. Readers of this series will look forward to the next “Mercy Carr” mystery to get the chance to solve a mystery with her and hear about the developments in Mercy’s relationship with Troy and Susie.
Review first posted on Bookreporter.com.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher, for review purposes.