#2 in Mercy Gunderson (SD) series
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2011
296 pgs. & Reading group guide
I saw this at a bookstore and was able to get it from the library. I didn't realize it was the second in a series. I figured it out right away, though, because there are lots and lots of characters mentioned with no previous reference to them. You can figure most everything out pretty quickly, but there's an antagonism between the protagonist, Mercy Gunderson, and a guy named Kit that's never explained at all. You could figure out the plot of the first book by the time you finished this one.
After I read the first short chapter I put the book aside and decided not to finish it. I was really turned off. Mercy Gunderson is a retired special ops sniper who loves guns and ammunition of any and every kind. She goes out into a field of prairie dogs and starts picking them off, one by one, for kicks. How could that not turn me off?
When I did pick up the book about a week later, I was not enamored of this protagonist. A hard-drinking, looking-for-trouble kind of person who is feeling sorry for herself is not the type of lead character that makes you want to read on. But read on I did. The story kept getting more and more interesting and about a third of the way through I was hooked.
Mercy is working tending bar and bouncing, which keeps her from drinking quite so much herself. A close friend from her Army past reappears in her life, but he has been employed as a spokesperson for the oil company that is trying to build a pipeline in the area and she is greatly opposed to this. However, Jason had saved her life and she feels she owes him. They have a huge history. But then he is murdered and she has no idea why or by whom.
Mercy is also having a secret affair with the sheriff, Mason Dawson. (The author, Lori Armstrong, says she'd have Josh Duhamel play him in a movie.) He was her father's hand-picked replacement for the job of sheriff when he died. However, when Mercy feels he is not attempting to investigate Jason's murder, she decides to run against him for sheriff. Okay.
Investigations proceed. The federal government is involved. There are all sorts of family and ranch things going on. The townspeople are always around and in her face. There are bad guys. Drugs and drug deals. Guns. Shooting. Interesting story. And yes, I'll read the next one, which is currently in the works.