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Book Author: Paula Munier

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.

THE HIDING PLACE by Paula Munier: Book Review

Twenty years ago, the lives of three people in a small Vermont town were forever changed by an encounter in the Two Rivers Theater.  The first was Ruby Rucker, a former Las Vegas resident who was finding her husband George and her life in Lamoille County, Vermont, not much to her liking; the second was Thomas Kilgore, a general ne’er-do-well, drunkard, and wife-abuser; the third was Beth Kilgore, his beaten, frightened, and downtrodden wife.

In a very short time, all three would disappear.

In The Hiding Place, the third novel in the series, Mercy is called to the bedside of former deputy sheriff August Pitts.  Pitts was the partner of Mercy’s grandfather, Sheriff “Red,” and according to Mercy’s grandmother Patience, Pitts’ late arrival at a crime scene caused the sheriff’s death.  She’s never forgiven Pitts, even as he lies dying.

However, Mercy is curious about two things: what she might find in the boxes of materials labeled BETH KILGORE that Pitts gives her when she visits him and his request, which may have been his last, that she “find the girl.”  Patience tells Mercy the story of the unhappy Kilgore marriage and their disappearance from the town.  Thomas Kilgore’s family said the couple moved to California, but Beth’s father didn’t believe it.  However, he could never find any trace of Beth or Thomas, and he died without knowing what happened to his only child.

The past continues to push its way into Mercy’s life.  She’s told that George Rucker, the man who killed her grandfather, has escaped from prison and is believed to be heading to Vermont.  According to Rucker’s cellmate, he has been harboring a vendetta against Patience, Red’s widow,  and “she was going to pay for what she did.”

Patience is not cowed by this news, calling it “nonsense,” and she tells Mercy the story behind the death of her husband.  Then the two women hear a knock at the door.  Alerted by Elvis, the Belgian shepherd she has inherited from her late fiancé, Mercy tried to stop her grandmother from opening the door, but she’s too late.  A blinding flash and explosion follow.

The many threads in the novel seem separate at first, but they are, in fact, all related.  The missing Kilgores, the body of a biologist/ filmmaker found in the Green Mountain National Forest, the prison escapee, the strained relationship between Mercy and Game Warden Troy Warner, and even the unexpected appearance of a former soldier and friend of Mercy’s late fiancé who insists that Elvis was promised to him–all these strands come together and prove necessary to the solution of crimes both old and new.

Paula Munier’s latest entry in the Mercy Carr series is a worthy successor to the two previous ones.  The characters are real, the plot is suspenseful and moves at a rapid pace, and the connections between Mercy and the important people in her life are believable and convincing.  And the author’s love for the state of Vermont is palpable.

You can read more about Paula Munier 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 Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

BLIND SEARCH by Paula Munier: Book Review

It’s a beautiful day in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and Henry Jenkins has sneaked out of the house to enjoy it.  It’s the beginning of hunting season so the boy is not alone in the woods, but he’s keeping as far from other people as possible.  When he sees Alice de Clare, a friend of his father’s and a guest at a nearby lodge, walking ahead of him he decides to follow her as silently as possible.

Henry comes to a log, which looks as if it would be great place to hide, but when he peers inside he sees a bundle of guns.  He’s retreating when Alice finds him, and when she sees the guns she tells him they need to return to the hunting lodge as quickly as possible.  But before she can move, an arrow flies through the air, killing her and causing Henry to run.

Mercy Carr, a former Army MP, has returned from her tour in Afghanistan, still recovering from the trauma of losing her fiancé there.  She has brought his dog, a Belgian shephard named Elvis, home with her, and the two of them are making a home for themselves in the mountains where she grew up.  Mercy and several members of her family are practicing bow and arrow shooting when Elvis bounds into the woods to retrieve an errant arrow and doesn’t return.

When Mercy follows him, she encounters Daniel Feinberg and his friends who are staying at his nearby lodge for the weekend.  Mercy continues to track Elvis and discovers him next to Alice’s body.

According to Katharine Montgomery, another of the guests, the impetus for the weekend hunting party was to give Daniel an opportunity to meet Alice and possibly hire her to renovate a nearby inn.  Katharine and her husband Blair were going to be partners with him and another couple who also are his guests.  Now, Katharine tells Mercy, “that will never happen.”  And Mercy wonders whether the two couples are more regretful over Alice’s death or the end of a possible partnership with Daniel.

Mercy and Troy Warner, a Vermont game warden, are dismissive of the attempts the local police make in their search of the nearby woods.  They decide to search the area with their dogs, Elvis and Susie Bear, and come upon Henry, hiding in a shed.  Mercy recognizes him at once as a friend’s son and knows that he is autistic.  Henry turns out to be the only witness to Alice’s death, but he is almost non-verbal, obviously frightened and cold, and is only persuaded to accompany Mercy and Troy back to the Feinberg residence because he has taken an immediate liking to their dogs.  And then it becomes obvious to all that Henry is the only one who can identify the killer.

Blind Search is the second mystery in the Mercy Carr series, and it’s inspired by the true story of an autistic boy lost in the wilderness of Vermont.  Paula Munier has crafted that into a thrilling story.

You can read more about Paula Munier 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 Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.