A Merciful Death (Mercy Kilpatrick, Book 1), by Kendra Elliot

This book is the opener to a series featuring FBI Agent Mercy Kilpatrick, stationed at the Portland, Oregon, field office. Kendra Elliot has written a few other serial mysteries, including a series featuring Callahan & McLane. She’s also authored some romance novels. This series with Kilpatrick already has a volume 2 and a third is scheduled for publication in January.

Kilpatrick and another agent are assigned to investigate a series of murders in a small rural town called Eagle’s Nest in the Deschutes region near Bend, Oregon. Several “preppers” have been killed in the area in their cabins. The murderer seems to be most interested in the cache of guns each of the men had hidden away, ┬ábut none for their food stores for the coming … whatever. Apocalypse, civil war, police state …. What Mercy hasn’t told the local sheriff in the town or the agent working with her is that she was born and raised in the town and left at age 18 never to return. There seems to be bad blood of some kind between Mercy and the other Kilpatricks. As she investigates the crimes the sheriff begins trying to understand Mercy’s reluctance to talk about her past. Meanwhile, Mercy notices a clue that reminds her of murders that took place in the area when she was still in her teens.

Mercy and the sheriff end up creating a close bond as they work the investigation together and she reveals more of her past and an interesting tie she still has to the area.

Elliot brings out an interesting group of preppers and survivalists along with town locals for whom Mercy still holds affection. Mercy is a fun character on her own, tough but feminine and with some unusual tics from her small town upbringing by prepper/survivalist parents. She has a certain vulnerability but manages to keep it buried deep as she works the case.

The reveal of the mystery works well and Elliot seems to know the area, having camped and fished there for many years myself. I’ll be interested if future books keep her in the same location or move her around the Pacific Northwest.