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by Lori Armstrong
Touchstone, January 2010
320 pages
ISBN: 1416590951

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mercy Gunderson has come home to South Dakota. It's not exactly what she wanted, but as we all know, home is where they have to take you in. Mercy is recovering as best she can from an injury sustained while she was serving in Iraq. She can't tell anyone exactly what she was doing in Iraq, or she'd (almost literally) have to kill them. Mercy misses her job, a lot. She misses her father, and feels a lot of guilt because she didn't get home in time to see him before he died. People around her are more than happy to feed her guilty conscience about that issue and several others. One can see why she misses her job.

When a Native American boy is found dead on her ranch, the boy's mother wants Mercy to look into it, since the perception is that the local law is pretty much ignoring the situation. Mercy finds the local law, in the person of Sheriff Mason Dawson, difficult to ignore. He's the guy hired to replace her dad, for one thing. He's drop dead gorgeous with a butt to die for. And he keeps butting into what she considers her business. Of course, he has exactly the same feeling about her.

As Mercy pokes around, bits of her past are revealed to the reader. This goes a long way towards making Mercy a sympathetic character, although perhaps not one we get to know up close and personal. People around her have a bad habit of winding up dead, or seriously injured - sometimes physically, sometimes psychiatrically. Mercy does confront her own personal demons, and grows as a character because of this.

NO MERCY is a multi-genre book: a Western, a Mystery, a Romance. Armstrong has managed to write a novel that can stand up in any category. Her acceptance of her fate in the final chapter may be a bit of a stretch, but not enough to ruin the book for anyone who has enjoyed it up to that point.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, December 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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