Saturday, 5 June 2021

A Borrowing of Bones

So, who was it who blogged about this series? Lark? I think so... more than likely I think. If it was, a huge thank you!

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier is my first book for the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge and what a start!

 


Mercy Carr, at 29, is a retired MP officer from the US army. During her last tour, in Afghanistan, her fiancé was killed but before he died he entrusted her with his army dog, Elvis. Elvis is a Belgian Shepherd, trained to sniff out explosives but the war has scarred him and he too has been retired. The two return to Mercy's home state of Vermont and find an isolated cabin in the forest to lick their wounds.

Out hiking one day, Elvis disappears into the trees. When Mercy eventually tracks him down he has found a baby in the clearing - not a newborn, an older baby, clearly well looked after and healthy. Game warden, Troy Warner, is the officer sent in answer to her distress call and although neither of them are officially 'police' they end up working together to solve the mystery of the missing child and her mother. 

The relationship is not an easy one, Troy is recovering from a divorce and Mercy is still grieving her late fiancĂ©.  But things are made a lot easier because Troy has a working dog too, Susie-bear, a huge Newfoundland/retriever cross and, as dogs do, they help heal not just physical scars but mental ones too.

The case gets complicated, involving not just the lost baby but skeletons in the woods, missing artists, local bad guys, the neighbouring millionaire and so on. The official police do not want the help of people they consider to be amateurs but naturally Mercy takes no notice of that and Troy get dragged along, partly because he too can't resist a mystery but also to save Mercy from herself.  

Well, this is the first book in this series of crime novels set in Vermont. I loved it to bits. A crime series set in the wonderful forests of Vermont? How could you not love that? It helped that I have been there, only briefly, but enough to picture the setting very clearly. It's stunning but of course has the potential to shelter quite a lot of crime. That aspect of the book was excellent, I didn't guess the little twist at the end or anything about what was really going on. And this book is 'pacey' too... be prepared for a bumpy ride.

And the dogs! The dogs are wonderful and because of that it's like the book has four main characters, two humans and two dogs. It works wonderfully. Mercy and Troy are very much fully fleshed out characters and I loved Mercy's grandma, Patience, who runs a vetinary practice, loves to cook, and is very much indulging in some matchmaking. Really this is a character-driven series, which for me is the best sort. I love it when I'm really invested in the main protagonists and the author has taken the trouble to make them 'interesting', with lives, families, and plenty of warts.

Needless to say I already have book two on my Kindle, Blind Search, which, judging by the cover is a snowy, wintery centred book. 'Let joy be unconfined'.


16 comments:

Lark said...

I'm so glad you loved this one. This series, and these characters, have become fast favorites of mine! And the dogs are so great. How can you not love Elvis and Susie Bear? Of course, Mercy and Troy are pretty great, too. Hope you enjoy the next two books in this series! :D

Sam Sattler said...

This sounds really good, Cath. I see, too, that Lark is a couple of books further into the series and is still enthusiastic about them, so that's another endorsement. I really enjoy books about dogs...if they don't get to sentimental and cute...so I'll definitely take a look at this series. Nice review.

Cath said...

Lark: I thought it was you but couldn't quite remember as it wasn't this book you blogged about but book 3. I'm not surprised they've become favourites as they're already favourites of mine. I couldn't leave the book alone I was so smitten. Thank you so much for recommending the series.

Sam: No there's no sentiment and cutesiness with these dogs. They're working dogs and although they're pets as well they're not spoilt. I thought the animals were very well portrayed.

TracyK said...

This sounds very good. I agree with you that character driven novels are the best. After all we spend a lot of time with the characters while we are reading. And nice to start the series when there are only three written so far.

Cath said...

Tracy: I'm not that fond of books where I don't actually like the main characters and don't care what happens to them. What's the point of that, though I know some people quite it. Yes... I don't often come to a series when it's so close to the beginning. Maybe I have some chance of keeping up with it. LOL

Mary said...

My DH's family is from Vermont--his GF had a dairy farm well up in the Green Mountains where we used to take long walks through their forest, so this series sounds like something we'll enjoy. Thanks to you and Lark.

Cath said...

Mary: That must have been an absolutely wonderful place for walks. I think we were not far from there in 1996 when we were touring. We visited Fort Ticonderoga and then crossed by ferry into Vermont. Stayed in Woodstock for a couple of nights, that was where we picked up a parking ticket for parking against the flow in the street. The local people were annoyed because we're English and didn't know so one of them went up to see the Sheriff to protest. So he halved the price of the ticket. One of those experiences we'll never forget.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I love Vermont, we try to visit every fall. Reading stories set there is always awesome as well so I'll have to keep this author in mind.

Cath said...

Diane: Wonderful that you're able to visit Vermont every Fall. There's a very strong sense of the state in this book.

CLM said...

I think Lark and I both recommended this series! I am so glad you liked it.

I am not an outdoorsy person at all but her descriptions of Vermont (except the murders!) are very appealing. I'd like to see more of the state myself!

Constance

Tina said...

I am a big fan of series and actually have so many I am working on. This sounds great! I have two more books in the Vera Stanhope series and I can turn my attention to others.

Cath said...

Constance: Ah yes, I remember now, it was you as well who recommended the series so thank you! She does make Vermont sound wonderful doesn't she.

Tina: I watch the Vera series on TV avidly but have yet to read any of the books. I find that occasionally... that I have zero interest in the actual books but love the TV dramas.

Susan said...

I reviewed this book awhile ago, but I'm pretty sure it was Lark who recommended it to me. Mysteries with working dogs are trendy lately and no wonder, they're so interesting. Glad you're enjoying this series!

Nan said...

This sounds so good! The dog on the cover doesn't look like a Belgian Shepherd. The name I know is Belgian Sheepdog and they are black. We had a wonderful girl for twelve years. I checked and found this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Shepherd. The AKC does call the different varieties as separate breeds.
But then again, those adorable Chet and Bernie books have a picture on the front that definitely was not true to the book!

CLM said...

I was listening to the third Vera Stanhope book driving to work and disc 7 malfunctioned, which was most annoying! Luckily, my library has now reopened and I was able to dash in and get a copy of the hardcover.

Cath said...

Susan: I had no idea I even liked mysteries with working dogs! LOL I shall be reading book 2 very soon.

Nan: I'm dog ignorant so have no idea what a Belgian Shepherd would look like. I thought all named 'shepherd' dogs were German, which is silly I know but there you go.

Constance: Oh gosh, I hate that. We've been watching an old British detective series called New Tricks, recorded off the TV and a couple of times the recording has malfunctioned so we were faced with finding the episode online. Happened tonight in fact, very annoying.