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HOME AT NIGHT by Paula Munier: Book Review

Newlyweds Mercy Carr and Troy Warner are looking for their first home together, one that is large enough to be comfortable for the two of them and the three others who make up their family–teenager Amy, her toddler daughter Helena, and Amy’s boyfriend Brodie.  Oh, and the couples’ two very large dogs–Elvis, Mercy’s Belgian Malenois, and Sugar Bear, Troy’s Newfoundland.

Mercy gets a call to view a home that has just come on the market.  Grackle Tree Farm had been owned by the famous Vermont poet Euphemia Whitley-Jones, and it consists of thirty acres and a magnificent, if very rundown, Victorian mansion.  Even knowing the enormous amount of work it will take to put the house in livable condition, Mercy and Troy immediately fall in love with it and its surrounding area.

However, a walk-thru with the realtor shows them something they weren’t expecting–a bedroom that was used as a beautiful library–with a dead body on the floor.

The following morning Mercy is awakened by a visit from her great-uncle Hugo Fleury and her sometime employer Daniel Feinberg.  Both men have interesting backgrounds–Hugo, a retired army colonel who now owns and runs a security agency, and Daniel, a billionaire who has hired Mercy to lead investigations on various occasions.

Fleury tells his great-niece that decades earlier he had been stationed in Europe and attended a party at the French estate of Whitley-Jones.  Fleury confirms what Mercy has heard, that everyone who knew the poet loved and admired her.  He tells her that he and Daniel have heard that a letter, a literary treasure in his words, is hidden somewhere inside the house or on the grounds of the Farm.

The two men believe the missive was a love letter, and Mercy tells them she has just learned of the rivalry between Euphemia and her sister Maude over an airman whose body was never recovered.  She has seen a memorial to Captain Michael Emil Robillard on the estate, and Hugo completes the story by telling Mercy that Robillard and Euphemia had been engaged when Robillard and Maude eloped, leaving Euphemia heartbroken.

To make the situation even more complicated, after her husband’s death Maude received his duffle bag with a letter Euphemia had written to him.  Thus the sister who had been the betrayer was now the betrayed.  The sisters never reconciled and left no immediate survivors.

Now that Euphemia and Maude have died, the sale is possible, and there are a number of prospective purchasers for the property, including developers and non-profit organizations as well as protestors who don’t want the property sold at all.  And where does the man who was killed in the house fit into all this?  And what about a possible heir in California, not a direct descent of either sister but a relation of Michael Emil Robillard?

Mercy and Troy are working together to solve the murder and thus purchase the Farm.  Given her military background and his current position as a detective in the Northshire police department, the two definitely have the skills to find the murderer and move into their dream home.  As in her previous books, Paula Munier has written a mystery with engaging characters, a fascinating plot, and a clever twist at the end of the novel.

Paula Munier, in addition to her writing, is a literary agent and a volunteer Natural Resources Steward in New Hampshire.  You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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