Monday, September 10, 2018

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

Paula Munier's debut mystery, A Borrowing of Bones, has everything. It's fast-paced and intense, engrossing with an atmospheric setting in the Vermont woods. For those of us who read for character, though, it's outstanding. Mercy Carr, a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, and State Game Warden Troy Warner, make an interesting pair of investigators. But, they're not on their own. They each have a rescue dog that is also a K9 working dog. Dog lovers will fall for Elvis, a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois, and Susie Bear, a Newfoundland retriever mix.

Mercy and Elvis run almost every morning in the Vermont woods. Neither of them can forget Mercy's fiance and Elvis' handler, killed in Afghanistan. Now, the veteran and the dog who is suffering from PTSD need a quiet place to recover. But, just before the July 4 holidays destroy all peace in the area, Elvis noses the pair into trouble. All in one morning, he alerts for explosives, uncovers a human skeleton, and finds a baby in the woods. Game Warden Troy Warner responds to their call. Dealing with the living baby is their first chore, but they plan to attack the other two issues. However, before Mercy can even get to the hospital the next day, the baby disappears.

When the baby and mother show up at Mercy's isolated cabin, she finds herself drawn more into the young mother's story. But, it's a story with complications. The pair run away when Troy shows up, but Mercy fills him in on a story of an artist father for the baby, a possible abusive stepfather. Who would know Elvis' discovery would plunge Mercy and Troy into an investigation involving murders, art, a possible terrorist group, a break-in, kidnapping, and, of course, the missing baby and mother?

As I said, Mercy and Troy are an excellent investigative duo. However, there's humor involved in their new relationship, as everyone from Mercy's grandmother to Troy's boss tries to push them together. The characters are well-developed in this fascinating story. Mercy's grandmother is the community veterinarian. Troy's boss is a charming widower. Mercy is a determined, independent woman who has suffered from loss and the war. But, those two dogs, Elvis, and Susie Bear, stand out as well. Munier does an excellent job in describing the two dogs, one suffering from PTSD and the other a rescue. Now, they're playful together, but they're intelligent working dogs when they're needed.

A Borrowing of Bones reminds me of Julia Spencer-Fleming's books featuring a female veteran, Clare Fergusson. It's set in Vermont, not upstate New York, but both authors capture the setting and depict strong characters. Readers may start this book for the mystery or the setting. You'll finish it with an appreciation for the characters and the working dogs, as well as the mystery.

Paula Munier's website is

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier. Minotaur Books, 2018. ISBN 9781250153036 (hardcover), 352p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


larobarbie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SandyG265 said...

This sounds interesting and my library has it on order.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I hate spammers.

Lesa said...

It is interesting, Sandy. I hope you enjoy it, if you get a chance to read it.

I do, too, Jeff. I eliminate their messages as soon as I see them.It was great to see you at Bouchercon! Funny how you don't see people, though. I never ran into you again after that.

Netteanne said...

Once again a review by Lesa has resulted in another book being put on hold.

Lesa, you do a great job of reviewing books and making them sound extremely interesting.

Keep up the good work.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

True. We didn't see one of our friends at all until we realized he was working the desk for a future con.

Lesa said...

That's my job, Netteanne. I'm an enabler.

Grandma Cootie said...

Thanks for the review. I've added this one to my list.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Grandma Cootie!