RogerBW's Blog

A Merciful Promise, Kendra Elliot 07 June 2022

2019 romantic mystery, sixth and last in the Mercy Kilpatrick series. Mercy's hastily dropped into an undercover job, while her police chief fiancé conducts a separate investigation.

So it's another militia (well, that's basically the series' premise), and once more the couple gets split up as one of them is vanished and out of contact while the other has to carry on without them. And I think it's because so much of this felt like a repetition of book 4 (swapping which of them was missing, and with other minor variations) that I found myself less than engaged.

The undercover job goes comprehensively south, because of course it does. We're told that the militia leader is tremendously charismatic, and that's why he's able to persuade his followers to hand over all their money and live in primitive conditions – but we're told it, we don't see it, so it never feels like a real situation and it's hard to find sympathy for the victims who fell for whatever his pitch may have been. There's also no sense of what it's for – nobody's saying "we need to wait here until the nukes fly" or "when the [ethnics] rise up in the cities we'll be safe here". It's been an ongoing problem with the series that these preppers, survivalists, militia types don't have a legend, the alternate worldview that drives their actions – while that's been the defining characteristic of the people in that mindset whom I've met or heard about. I wonder whether that omission was an attempt to avoid causing offence, or whether the reader's meant to map in their own paranoias, as with the underwritten heroines of some romance novels who serve as a proxy for the reader.

For that matter, I got very little sense of an attempt to infiltrate; Mercy just causes ructions, having apparently had no experience of how insecure violent men react when they think their authority is being challenged (and yet she works for the FBI).

Elliot expected this would the last book of the series, so some ongoing threads do get tied off (and the final chapter is a grand wedding scene), though others are left dangling. (I gather the main characters show up in some of her later books but this series in itself seems to be compete.)

If you're already invested in the characters, well, there's that wedding scene payoff, but otherwise I felt that this didn't add a great deal to the previous books.

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