A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot is the second book in the Mercy Kilpatrick series, where the survivalist FBI agent must investigate a local antigovernment militia before more people get hurt.
Read Corrina Lawson's review of A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot, and then make sure to sign in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the second Mercy Kilpatrick mystery!
A good mystery series has two main ingredients: a compelling sleuth and a distinct sense of place. My favorites are Spenser’s Boston, Longmire’s Wyoming, and Kinsey Millhone’s Santa Theresa. A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot—the second Mercy Kilpatrick mystery—has both these elements.
FBI Agent Mercy Kilpatrick is—like many leads in a mystery series—a person of two worlds. The first, of course, is law enforcement. But Mercy has recently moved back to her hometown, the rural Oregon community of Eagle’s Nest, after the tragic events of the first book, A Merciful Death—and that brings in her other world as well.
Mercy is a self-described prepper (a person who prepares for the collapse of civilization) and even owns a cabin loaded with supplies to live on after the end. She was raised that way, growing up with parents who always tried to live as self-sufficiently as possible.
Besides representing years of hard work, he knew the rural cabin and its contents were part of Mercy’s core. They kept her sane and balanced. He didn’t think sleeping there a few nights was any big deal. Before her trip, they’d been working to transfer some of the stores from his uncle’s old home. Upon his death, Truman’s Uncle Jefferson had left him a wealth of supplies, but he and Mercy had agreed her location was better. Remote and off the grid.
The average home had enough food for a week. Mercy’s cabin could keep them fed and warm for months.
Beans, bullets, and Band-Aids.
The three Bs of prepping.
That’s from the point of view of Truman Daily, the local police chief and Mercy’s lover—though the relationship is still fragile because of the baggage both bring into it. It’s through Truman that the reader realizes that Mercy is still largely the person her parents made her despite leaving the community in which she was raised.
At the same time Mercy is trying to readjust and reconnect with her family—including the orphaned teenage niece that’s become her ward—and sort out her relationship with Truman, two local law enforcement officers are killed by a sniper while investigating an arson. Truman is the only survivor of the assault. What follows is an investigation where Mercy’s natural instincts as an investigator, her fears for Truman, and her inherent reluctance to trust “the government” all collide.
There may or may not be a local militia forming, but the local attitude is that it’s not a problem so long as they leave everyone else alone. While some evidence may point to the possible leader of the militia being behind the sniper murders, there is no concrete proof.
The story becomes a test of loyalty not just for Mercy and Truman but for nearly everyone around her. There’s her niece, Kaylie, who is dating Cade, a young man working for the possible militia leader; Cade himself, who is grateful for the job and likes being valued; and Mercy’s brother, Owen, who blames Mercy for, well, it seems nearly everything that’s ever gone wrong for their family.
The main villain is easy to spot, but the lack of mystery behind the reveal does nothing to diminish the quality of the story. Instead, it’s the breadth of characters that keep the pages turning. Seeing the villain through the eyes of Mercy’s friends and family adds an extra layer to the story. Plus, Eagle’s Nest is populated by so many interesting people that I was riveted even in the quiet scenes.
One of my favorite characters is Mercy’s sister, Rose. Rose has been blind since birth and is currently pregnant due to events of the first book, but she showcases a strength and resilience similar to Mercy’s own—though each sister views the other as the strongest. And I adored every scene with Officer Ben Cooley of Eagle’s Nest, an older officer who’s honest and weathered but frustrated that he’s found a case over his head so close to retirement.
As all the secrets surface, the final confrontation tests loyalties, questions who stands on the side of the right, and explores whether certain actions are legally sanctioned or not. The ending leaves Mercy and Truman in a new emotional place and alters her relationship with her family, which allows plenty to explore in future books. I’ll be looking forward to them, as this has all the makings of an excellent long-running series.
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Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.