By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
Full disclosure, I was given an advanced reader copy of the book to read and review.
I am an avid reader of mystery novels — mainly in the “cozy” mystery genre. When I was introduced to Paula Munier‘s new book, “A Borrowing Of Bones” I knew I had to read it because I’d read her nonfiction “how-to” write books, “Plot Perfect” and “Writing With Quiet Hands” and they are on my keeper shelf.
There are so many books vying for my attention, especially when I purchase an ebook and Amazon lets me know that “other people purchased XYZ” after purchasing the one I just bought… I have been lured into books that sounded promising but didn’t live up to their hype. Now, before I buy a book I “look inside” and read the first paragraph; if I’m not hooked, I don’t spend my money.
Mystery Novel Features Rescue Dogs
The opening of Paula’s book, “Grief and guilt are the ghosts that haunt you when you survive what others do not. Mercy Carr survived, and so did Sergeant Martinez’s dog.” The sentence drew me in and the rest of the book kept me on the edge of my seat.
What did I love about “A Borrowing Of Bones”?
Here’s a short list:
- A retired bomb-sniffing Belgian shepherd with PTSD named Elvis
- A rescue Newfoundland
- Clever dialogue
- Shakespeare references I wouldn’t have expected from the protagonist, Mercy Carr, but that highlighted the contradictions in her personality and made me relate to her
- A lost baby
- A burgeoning romance? This was subtle, but in my mind hope springs eternal
- An amazing cast of supporting characters
- A good-looking U.S. Game Warden
- Kittens and cats
- Rescue dogs (in case I didn’t mention that enough!)
- Subplots that moved me through the pages and that amped up the tension because of the timeline in which they took place
- The relationship between Mercy who is grief-stricken over the loss of the man she loved and her sometimes uneasy, but deepening bond with Elvis, who is also missing his handler
- You can tell that Paula is a dog-lover and that she understands the nuanced relationship between humans and canines
- Breathtaking prose
- Fully realized characters
- Dogs being dogs
- Compellingly-paced book
- Skillfully wrought mystery
Any one of these reasons would have pulled me into the pages of the novel, but put them all together and it was a non-put-downable-kept-me-up-past-my-bedtime book.
Brief description of “A Borrowing Of Bones“:
Following her last deployment, Mercy was shot, her fiance Seargeant Martinez was killed and Elvis was depressed. Mercy and Elvis were sent home both suffering visible and hidden wounds. Before he died, Martinez said to Mercy, “Take care of my partner.”
Mercy adopted the retired bomb-sniffing dog and deals with his sometimes erratic behavior. She has
learned to anticipate his triggers (loud noises, thunderstorms) and helped calm him (many times by sharing a yoga mat together). Mercy’s patience and love with Elvis shows the depth of her love and commitment to her deceased fiance and made her a relatable protagonist.
Mercy Carr and her Belgian Malinois retired bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis are taking their daily walk deep in the wilderness behind her home. The dog “alerts” and Mercy finds a crying baby in an opening in the woods near a shallow grave. Thus begins the ticking clock on finding the baby’s mother and attempting to discover why Elvis keeps “alerting” in an area where no bomb is found.
When Mercy calls 9-1-1, US Game Warden Troy Warner and his search and rescue Newfoundland, Susie Bear respond and the four are inextricably tied together to solve the mystery, work on a cold case, track down the baby’s mother, uncover the real reason she abandoned her baby and keep the citizens of Vermont safe during the planned Fourth of July festivities.
Mercy, Troy, Elvis and Susie Bear form a reluctant alliance and become embroiled in a cold-case mystery, domestic violence, art theft and the missing child case even though neither of them have any jurisdiction in the case.
The research author Paula Munier put into the relationship between humans and canines and in the canines themselves and their introducton shows in how they interact and how their owners know when the dogs need to be separated from one another.
As a dog lover I was fascinated with the skills these canines brought to the table, especially since my poodle’s major talent is being able to distinguish one of her toys from another. I liked seeing the relationship and trust build between Mercy and Elvis and between Mercy and Troy.
This was an amazing read and intriguing start to a new series. I look forward to the second book!
Up next: Interview with author Paula Munier