Minotaur Books (November, 2019)
Paperback edition will be published October 27, 2020.
A Mercy Carr Mystery (Book 2 of 3)
by Shirley Wetzel
Nine-year-old Henry knows he’s not supposed to leave the house without a grownup, but he’s bored and he loves wandering through the nearby forest. He’s totally unaware of the potential dangers lurking in the trees. It’s deer and bear hunting season in the mountains of Vermont, and he is dressed in his batman pajamas and slippers, with no orange vest to announce his presence to hunters. Other people with a more sinister agenda also roam the forest. Still wandering, Henry witnesses a violent act that sends him running for his life.
Mercy Carr is helping her housemate, Amy, improve her skills with the bow and arrow, when her Malinois tracking dog, Elvis, runs into the nearby woods, ignoring her commands to stop. She goes after the dog, who leads her to the body of a young woman. The cause of death is obvious: an arrow has pierced her heart.
The woods are part of the estate of billionaire Daniel Feinberg. He and his hunting party stumble onto the site of the murder soon after. They identify the victim as Alice de Clare, one of Feinberg’s weekend houseguests. Game warden Troy Warner and his gentle giant Susie Bear arrive soon after, and Troy helps Mercy secure the crime scene until the police arrive.
Their dogs suddenly take off deeper into the forest, leading them to a small fishing hut, where a small boy, obviously traumatized, crouches under a table. Mercy and Troy both suspect the child had witnessed the murder, but he doesn’t say a word. Even when he is reunited with his father he stays silent, clinging to the two dogs who have earned his trust. Henry is autistic, but with incredible math skills. He calms himself by mumbling prime numbers, and by cuddling with the big dogs.
Feinberg’s guests, Blake and Katherine Montgomery and Caspar and Cara Farrow, are potential investors in a nearby inn that Feinberg wants to renovate into an upscale resort. Lea Sanders is a photographer for the project, and Alice was an architect who was going to design the new resort. Ethan Jenkins, Henry’s father is a hometown boy now working as an architect in New York City. All are suspects in Alice’s murder.
The police detective, no fan of Mercy and Troy’s investigative skills, quickly hones in on a subject with a possible motive, and arrests him, case closed. Mercy and Troy have doubts, and conduct their own investigation.
Their quest sends them back in time and place, to a school that connects most of the suspects. They uncover a trail of blackmail, infidelity, betrayal and murder that threaten to destroy several lives.
The plot is skillfully done, with plenty of twists and turns and surprises. The cast of characters is large: Mercy has extended family, and she and Troy have many friends in their small town. Each character is a fully rounded individual, each has their own part in the story, and it all flows smoothly together to create a powerful and engaging story. Elvis and Susie Bear often steal the show, and that is how it should be. The beauty of the Green Mountains in the autumn shines through.
This is the second book in the Mercy Carr mystery series. The first, A BORROWING OF BONES, was nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark award. She has written three popular books on writing and an acclaimed memoir. BLIND SEARCH was inspired by the true search-and-rescue case of an autistic boy who was lost in the Vermont wilderness. Highly recommended.
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