With No Mercy, author Lori Armstrong begins a new series with a strong, but flawed, female in the lead. Mercy Gunderson has returned to her South Dakota ranch while on medical leave from the Army. After twenty years in the military spending time in far away places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, she finds it difficult to adjust.
While she finds the ranch in good shape after the death of her sheriff/rancher father, the community is not doing as well. Soon after her arrival, a body of a young Native American boy is found on the ranch. When she thinks the new sheriff is not doing enough to track down the killer, Mercy decides to start her own investigation.
When her own nephew is found slaughtered, she pulls all of her Army skills together and goes on the hunt. The deeper she gets into the case, the more evil she finds. Combating racism, sexism, and her own mental and physical problems, Mercy has a huge challenge before her as she works to avenge her nephew’s death, oversee her sister's troubles, and save the ranch from land-grabbers.
Lori Armstrong is the Shamus award-winning author of Snow Blind, and author of the popular Julie Collins mystery series. In this new series, Ms. Armstrong has created a character with enough flaws to impress any reader, and yet Mercy comes across as vulnerable as well. The author has developed her main characters with a depth that causes the reader to care what happens to each one. It is easy to get drawn into the story in such a way that we wish we could jump in and help Mercy out, on her good days and bad.
The descriptive scenery and atmosphere of western South Dakota lend credence to the challenges the inhabitants face. The sights, sounds and smells seem real. It is easy to see in the minds eye the sprawling ranch, with its outbuildings and Jake and the ranch hands going about their chores, and Sophie cooking in the kitchen. The rough landscape of South Dakota has a beauty of its own.
This is a strong story for women although men will enjoy it as well. I haven't read this good of a western thriller in a long time. I was hooked immediately, and had trouble setting the book down for even a short time.
This first-time Armstrong reader is definitely looking forward to more stories about Mercy Gunderson, our newest favorite PI.
A special thank you goes to Touchtone Books for providing a complimentary copy of No Mercy for our review.