This year our friend Paula Munier became a debut novelist with A Borrowing of Bones. That’s in addition to being a non-fiction author (her Plot Perfect has saved me more than once) and an agent. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the blog today. Here’s a bit about the book:
The first in a gripping new series by Paula Munier, A Borrowing of Bones is full of complex twists, introducing a wonderful new voice for mystery readers and dog lovers. Grief and guilt are the ghosts that haunt you when you survive what others do not…. After their last deployment, when she got shot, her fiancé Martinez got killed and his bomb-sniffing dog Elvis got depressed, soldier Mercy Carr and Elvis were both sent home, her late lover’s last words ringing in her ears: “Take care of my partner.”
Together the two former military police―one twenty-nine-year-old two-legged female with wounds deeper than skin and one handsome five-year-old four-legged Malinois with canine PTSD―march off their grief mile after mile in the beautiful remote Vermont wilderness. Even on the Fourth of July weekend, when all of Northshire celebrates with fun and frolic and fireworks, it’s just another walk in the woods for Mercy and Elvis―until the dog alerts to explosives and they find a squalling baby abandoned near a shallow grave filled with what appear to be human bones.
U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner and his search and rescue Newfoundland Susie Bear respond to Mercy’s 911 call, and the four must work together to track down a missing mother, solve a cold-case murder, and keep the citizens of Northshire safe on potentially the most incendiary Independence Day since the American Revolution. It’s a call to action Mercy and Elvis cannot ignore, no matter what the cost.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE A FOREVER HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
It’s that time of year again in New England. Time to shovel the first snow, spike the first eggnog with bourbon, read the first merry mystery of the season.
My favorites don’t just serve up a fruitcake-size slice of murder and mayhem, victims and suspects, heroes and villains, they come with a whipped cream dollop of dogs and cats and other animals. Partly this is because I’m an animal lover, and partly this is because I love dogs and cats and other animals in my mysteries—the ones I read and the ones I write. In my Mercy and Elvis series, retired MP Mercy Carr and her bomb-sniffing dog Elvis pair up with game warden Troy Warner and his search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear to solve mysteries in the Vermont wilderness. And yes, there are cats, too.
A HOLLY, JOLLY DOGGONE GOOD READING LIST
Here’s a quick round-up of the holiday-themed mysteries graced by furry characters on my bookshelf:
Santa 365, a Chet and Bernie eShort Story, by Spencer Quinn
If you’re short on time and long on dog love, you’ll enjoy this short story, starring the one and only Chet, K-9 school drop-out and better half of the private investigation team headed up by hapless human Bernie. Together they solve crimes in Southern California—and this time it’s a light-fingered Santa’s helper on the run.
Fair warning: The Chet and Bernie mysteries are addictive. You can’t read just one. Lucky for you, you’ll have all winter to read the whole series.
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, by David Rosenfelt
If you love Golden retrievers—and who doesn’t, really?—you’ll love Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mysteries, which are clever and fun and full of good cheer and evil deeds and dogs, dogs, dogs. This Christmas story is one of his best—and very in keeping with the spirit of the season.
The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett
Nick and Nora Charles, Asta the wonder Schnauzer, and all the martinis you can drink during Christmas in Manhattan…what more do you want? (Re)read the novel, (re)watch the movie, and (re)stock up on gin.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
Okay, so this isn’t really a mystery and the dog dies in the end (not a spoiler, as the entire story is written from dying dog Enzo’s point of view and you know that from the beginning) but you’ll fall in love with Enzo and his family and the message of this moving and inspiring novel. Promise.
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Okay, Okay, so this isn’t a mystery either, it’s not even a novel. It’s a poetry collection about human’s best friend. I read a lot of poetry because it inspires me as a writer and as a person. If you love poetry and you love dogs, you’ll love Dog Songs. The fabulous Mary Oliver at her best.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mewed, by Alan Bradley
(Well, you know I had to have at least one cat title on this list. Or my persnickety tabby Ursula would never forgive me.) Bradley had me at the title (as I’m always a sucker for anything Shakespeare), and this Flavia de Luce mystery opens with the quote from Macbeth. Bradley’s young sleuth Flavia has been called a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes, and while she may be an acquired taste, once you fall for her you’ll come back for more. I’m in the middle of reading this one, so here’s hoping the cat prevails. Although you never know with Bradley.
Happy holidays—and happy reading! May you and your two-legged and four-legged friends and family have a warm and bright December and a very happy new year.
Paula Munier is the author of the bestselling Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, Writing with Quiet Hands, and the acclaimed memoir Fixing Freddie. Her debut mystery, A BORROWING OF BONES, was named one of Library Journal’s Best Debuts of Fall/Winter 2018/2019 and made Dru’s Book Musing’s Best Books of the Year. The second, BLIND SEARCH, will be out next autumn. The Mercy and Elvis series was inspired by the hero working dogs she met through Mission K9 Rescue, her own Newfoundland-retriever-mix rescue Bear, and her lifelong passion for crime fiction. In her fabulous day job as Senior Literary Agent and Content Strategist for Talcott Notch Literary, she represents many great writers. Her specialties include crime fiction, women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, MG and crossover YA, high-concept SFF, and nonfiction. She lives in New England with her family, two rescue dogs and a rescue cat.
Readers, do you have any pet themed mysteries you’d add to Paula’s list?
Welcome, Paula! Borrowing of Bones is at the top of my TBR list. I have a cat in all my series except the new one – where the protag is allergic to mammal pets so she has an African gray parrot. I love Liz’s Cat Cafe series (written as Cate Conte) and her orange JJ.
Parrots! What fun. The only birds in my books so far are wild turkeys and hawks and owls and black-throated warblers….
I really loved your book and I am looking forward to the next one. The Art of Racing in the Rain was such a good book. I wept reading it.
Thank you so much! As for The Art of Racing in the Rain…I resisted reading it for a long time and then I found myself at an airport with nothing to read and I bought it and cried all the way home from California to Boston. My row mate was not pleased.
Love having critters of all sorts in the books I read. I think it gives it a more human touch and I love to read them all.. BORROWING OF BONES is definitely on my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Being an old Army brat from a Dad who proudly served during WWII, Korea and Vietnam, having a military back ground on this series is of particular interest to me.
Thanks for the heads up on some cool sounding books that will add to my winter reading!
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Thank you! I’m an Amry brat, too, so I have a soft spot for characters like Mercy. I graduated (thankfully) just a couple of years before West Point accepted women (big disappoitment to Dad) but I always wondered ho my life would have been different had I chosen that path. Writing Mercy is my way of exploring that.
Thank you! I’m an Army brat, too, so I have a soft spot for characters like Mercy. I graduated (thankfully) just a couple of years before West Point accepted women (big disappointment to Dad) but I always wondered how my life would have been different had I chosen that path. Writing Mercy is my way of exploring that.
Welcome, Paula! BORROWING OF BONES is on my list for my end-of-year staycation. My protagonist has a Golden Retriever and it is my ambition to be a dog-owner again in the near future. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Golden retrievers are lovely dogs! Our rescue Bear is a Newfoundland retriever mix, and he’s a luv. Let us know when you get your new pooch!
I think you know how much I loved A Borrowing of Bones! It’s such a great book with a wonderful protagonist. I can’t wait to read the next one.
Awww thank you! I’ve turned in BLIND SEARCH, the next in the series, and am waiting for notes from my editor. Always a stressful time LOL But one way or another it should pub next year. It’s inspired by the true story of a boy with autism who got lost in the Vermont woods. He was found and brough home safe and sound, but it got me to thinking: What if a boy with autism got lost in Mercy and Elvis’s neck of the woods, and witnessed a murder….
You are such a tease! Now, I really, really, really hate waiting for it!
I enjoy Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries. The first was Killing Trail.
Margaret is AWESOME. Great writer and great pal.
The only books I’ve read on that list are The Thin Man and the Alan Bradley book. Looks like I’ve got some more to check out.
Great! Let me know what you tihnk….
I’m looking forward to reading A Borrowing of Bones. Your description reminds me a lot of Robert Crais’ book, Suspect. The protagonists are an LAPD officer whose partner has been killed in an ambush and a K-9 German Shepherd whose partner was killed by an IED in Afghanistan. Both are damaged individuals, and the book is really about how they save each other. One of the things I like best about Suspect is that some of the chapters are from the dog’s POV. It’s definitely not a cozy, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.
I’m looking forward to your book to see the ways in which it’s similar and the ways in which it’s different.
Frankly, though, I must admit I’m a sucker for any book that has a dog as one of its main characters.
When 15 I illustrated, in my sketch book, what I loved to be a horror movie I’d direct: Don’t Look at the Eyes of the Cat. I still keep it. But this was then. Now I look at the eyes of my daughter’s cat and she looks at my eyes and nothing scary happens. Maybe I’d write a novel out of it… just because of the title, otherwise Shushu (or Zuzu or Kimiko or other names) is cute, although she never lets me alone and she takes the opportunity to jump and sit on my lap (and then she looks at my eyes and I look at her eyes and then I resume writing my book).
Hi Paula! Our paths keep crossing and this winter I’m so looking forward to settling in with A BORROWING OF BONES (I may be a cat person, but I hope I’m not species-ist). Best of luck with the second book!
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