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by Paula Munier
Minotaur, July 2022
336 pages
ISBN: 125082236X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mercy Carr is enjoying a lovely morning on the porch of her cabin at the Lady Slipper's Inn with her Malinois Elvis when her mother Grace comes tearing up the driveway in a major tizzy. Mercy's grandmother, Grace's mother Patience is getting married at the Inn in a few days and the spa director has disappeared. Grace wants Mercy and Elvis to find Bodhi St. George and/or take over his duties as a yoga instructor, etc. Grace in a tizzy is a force unto herself, as is her sister Prudence who owns the Inn. Mercy figures it will be easier to find the missing director than to teach a yoga class after a long span of not teaching yoga. So she and Elvis start poking around. They don't find Bodhi St. George; they do find a dead stranger in a goat barn with a pitchfork in his chest. The barn is on the goat farm where Bodhi lived and the local police make the obvious assumption that Bodhi killed him; Mercy doesn't believe this, based on the little she has learned about Bodhi. Even when Bodhi is revealed to be ex-military, and pretty secret ex-military, Mercy is convinced he is not a killer. As with any major family gathering, particularly those involving weddings and funerals, the guests are not the only arrivals. Along with the guests come tensions, rivalries, resentments, and feuds. Some of these go back more than one generation. Some of the secrets at this gathering are decidedly deadly for some of the guests.

Mercy and Elvis share this story with her boyfriend, warden Troy Warner and his dog, Suzie Bear. This is the fourth in a series and the romance between Mercy and Troy gets a little warmer in each book. Mercy's family has been a part of all the books and those characters just keep growing up and out as the series progresses. The family dynamics between the three sisters (Verity shows up and brings a whole different vibe to the group) reads completely true; anyone with siblings will recognize that. There are multiple sub-plots, all of them believable. They are resolved tidily by the last chapter, although the Mercy/Troy story will continue on if the gods allow. The setting is rural Vermont in June what could be lovelier? Even Prudence and Grace can't control the weather, so the storms that do come are timely and useful in terms of advancing the story. Dog-lovers will find much to enjoy as Elvis and Suzie Bear are put through their paces. Romance fans will be a bit surprised by the last two chapters; they are a great set-up for at least one more Mercy Carr novel, if not several more.

P.J Coldren: I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, June 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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