Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In the Pines by Kendra Elliot
Series: Columbia River #3, Mercy Kilpatrick #7
Published by Montlake Romance on August 16, 2022
Genres: Romantic Suspense
A national treasure hunt with a $2 million prize has driven obsessed fortune seekers to overrun the small town of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. The hunt’s cryptic clues and the lure of wealth have exposed the desperate side of human greed: theft, fights, trespassing—and even the motive to kill. Police chief Truman Daly craves peace in his town but has a murder on his hands instead. Now the big prize isn’t the only thing hiding in the pines. So is a killer.
When a young boy walks into the local café and claims his mother and baby sister have been missing for weeks, FBI special agent Mercy Kilpatrick investigates and exposes a disturbing twist in his story. Deep family secrets and lies that started sixty years ago have burst into the present, bringing with them deadly consequences.
One of the biggest compliments I can give an author is to not pay attention to the blurb and simply grab up their next release without a qualm. In the Pines was therefore a delightful surprise when I barely read the first page and realized this was a revisit to the Mercy Kilpatrick world. I fell in love with that series and was in book depression when it ended. A revisit was a special gift to fans and an opportunity for new readers to come to enjoy the series.
In the Pines is the third standalone of the Columbia River series which is apparently revisiting older series and giving side characters from those the limelight. This is a flexible book and can be picked up by long time series reader and newbies alike.
With a millionaire’s poem to a fortune leading many to believe the little town of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon is ground zero, Truman and his police officers are kept hopping with the frenzy this causes. Then some treasure hunters turn up dead and the stakes get higher. Meanwhile, Truman handed off a missing persons case to Mercy that leads her to a surprise. Sheriff’s Deputy, Detective Evan Bolton’s sister disappeared fourteen years ago and it turns out she’s been in the area all along living off grid under another name. Her son reports her missing when two weeks have gone by without a word that she found the brother she was looking for. The clock is ticking for Mercy and Evan to find his sister and her baby while he gets to know his older nephew and niece.
I suspected the missing persons case and the treasure hunter killings might end up being the same case and, after the details were laid out, the ‘who’ behind it caught my attention. I was excited to be tracking with Mercy, Truman, Ollie, Kaylie, and Evan again. This is more Evan Bolton’s book which fits with how the Columbia River series is done. Still, it felt like a fabulous reunion for this reader and I flew through this book.
Evan was a recurring character that I saw peripherally, but he turned out to be a good leading character I enjoyed getting to know as he opened up to his newly found family and helped get at the secrets that were hidden in the past and solve the current murders. I loved seeing a newly married Mercy and Truman working with him and each other like in the past. Loved seeing them happy and settling with their made family and enjoyed seeing Ollie and Kaylie working out their own troubling situation. These are smart romantic suspenses and I appreciate how the characters investigate and handle the dangers of the investigation.
All in all, I’m sad to have finished so quickly, but I perked right up after reading her promise of more in the acknowledgements. I can’t recommend Kendra Elliott and particularly the Mercy Kilpatrick series enough to romantic suspense fans.
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