A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books 2018 hardcover, mystery novel.
Following the death of Mercy Carr’s fiancée Sgt. Martinez in Afghanistan, the retired military police officer, along with Elvis, Martinez’s bomb sniffing dog, the now retired pair have moved back to Vermont to recover from their physical and psychological wounds. During a hike in the woods, they find a recently abandoned baby. Seeking help, they meet Game Warden Troy Warner and Susie Bear, his Newfoundland retriever mix search & rescue dog. Searching the area, Elvis finds a shallow grave and the skull in it has a bullet hole.
The authorities find, nearby, a handmade belt buckle that might help identify the remains. The abandoned baby’s mother, Amy Walker, sneaks into the hospital and steals her baby, then turns up at Mercy’s house. Her home life with an abusive stepfather has kept her on the run while Adam, the artist and activist who’s the baby’s father, has forced them to live off the grid. Mercy wants to help Amy keep her baby, but when she finds the stepfather murdered, things look bad, especially in the eyes of arrogant State Police Detective Kai Harrington, who, unimpressed by Mercy or Troy Warner, warns them off the case. The bones that alerted Elvis are most likely those of local troublemaker Wayne Herbert, whose mother and brothers are still enmeshed in many illegal enterprises.
Determined to tackle Amy’s problems and the possibly related case of Herbert, Mercy puts herself and Elvis in danger as they continue to hunt for clues with the help of a reluctant Troy, Susie Bear, and Mercy’s grandmother, a well-loved veterinarian.
I got this first novel from the library because it was recommended as being similar to the books of Julia Spencer-Fleming, which I have enjoyed. While there are some similarities, I didn’t find the character building or plotting quite as strong, perhaps typically in a first novel, and the lead character made many errors of poor judgement, causing problems for the investigation. There is a new book, Blind Search, the second in the series, which is just out. I assume it will be better, and I’ll try it.
Have you read this? What are you reading?