In Mercy the hunt for a killer leads to a battle between justice and desire.
For U.S. marshal Rourke Kincaid, there’s the law…and then there’s his law. When the two don’t agree, he always trusts his instincts. A killing spree has gripped the Northwest, showing a strange connection that only he sees, and now the old rules of justice no longer apply. Forced to turn rogue, he goes deep undercover to track his mysterious female suspect to a quiet, unassuming café in the wild, isolated mountains of Beartooth, Montana.
But encountering Callie Westfield complicates his mission in ways he never expected. As suspicious as she seems, her fragile beauty and sexy charm get to Rourke. Then the gory crimes begin anew. With his heart suddenly at war with his instincts, he has only two options. Either turn Callie over to the law, or put everything—including his badge and his life—on the line to protect her.
Fast-paced read that returns the reader to the fictional town of Beartooth, Montana. This time a maverick marshal from Seattle is on the hunt for a serial killer. The suspect is a waitress from Beartooth, but the marshal finds he has a soft spot for her. Both the marshal and the waitress are sympathetic characters, but Daniels keeps you guessing most of the way through the book. Is the waitress really the killer? Or is she a victim? I’d recommend and eagerly await the next in the series.
B.J. is a fellow member of Montana Romance Writers. Great job, B.J.!
There was no traffic on the two-lane north of Big Timber at this time of the night. Laura wasn’t that worried about deer on the highway either. There was an almost full moon that turned the landscape silver. After driving in Seattle for so many years with traffic at all hours, day or night, this was a treat.
She hadn’t been back to Montana since her mother had awakened her in the middle of the night and rushed her downstairs to an old pickup waiting just outside. She’d never seen the man behind the wheel before or since. She just remembered her mother paying him when they reached the bus station in some distant town. Most of her life she hadn’t known even the name of the town where they’d moved to before her mother lost her job and they had to move again.
That time, when she’d awakened, they were in Michigan. When she asked what was going on, her mother told her they were making a new start and she was never to mention the past again.
Tonight Rourke had been surprised to hear not only that her mother was alive, but also living nearby in a small Montana town. She shouldn’t be angry with him for knowing so little about her. When he’d first asked about her family, she’d let him think her mother was dead. She’d made the mistake of mentioning her sister, Catherine, only once, but Rourke hadn’t forgotten. He’d asked if she was coming for a visit.
What he didn’t know was that she hated her sister’s visits. They were only once a year, fortunately. She couldn’t keep Catherine away longer.
She never talked about her family. Nor did she tell anyone else. She’d put that life behind her years ago. But she especially didn’t want Rourke knowing. The last thing she wanted was his pity.
Given that she knew everything about him, it did seem unfair that he knew nothing about her. He’d been raised on a ranch in Wyoming. When his parents had re-tired, they’d sold the ranch and left him enough money that he never had to work. When his parents were killed in a small-plane crash, he’d already graduated from college, been working in law enforcement and had finally crossed her path at the Seattle P.D.
If she was honest with herself, she’d always believed that fate had thrown the two of them together. Seeing him again had made her realize that she’d always thought that someday they would be a couple. She knew it was crazy and certainly the feeling was all on her side. Rourke had never had an interest in her other than as a cop. Why she’d thought that would change, she had no idea.
It didn’t keep it from hurting, though. Her psychiatrist insisted that if she told Rourke how she felt, she would finally be able to move past it.
Well, the best she could do now was to try to keep him alive, she thought as she came over a hill and saw the rotating white blades of the Judith Gap wind farm in the distance.
Closer, she could see the lights of Harlowton, Montana, ahead. All her misgivings about coming here hit her in a rush. For all she knew, her mother was already dead, taking her secrets with her.
Laura’s foot came up off the accelerator. It wasn’t too late to turn around. Or she could get a motel in town and get out of here tomorrow.
She felt that old tightening in her stomach at even the thought of seeing her mother.
She didn’t want to be here. What was the point in digging up all those bad memories?
Ahead, she saw the highway sign. Turn around or drive into the heart of the small Montana town to her mother’s house, where she couldn’t even conceive what might be waiting for her?
Rourke hadn’t been able to sleep after Laura left. He’d traveled light to Montana, so it hadn’t taken long to get settled into the cabin. The fall night was still warm, although there was talk of an early winter storm coming in later in the week.
Restless, he stepped out on the cabin porch into the moonlit night. Laura’s visit had left him shaken. So much of what she’d said made sense. So why did all his instincts tell him she was wrong?
Knowing he wasn’t going to get any sleep, he decided to go for a walk. As he headed down the mountain into town, he looked at the small western community. The old buildings shone in the moonlight. The café was closed, had been for hours. Nor were there any lights in the apartment over it. Callie would be asleep like the other few residents who actually lived in and around Beartooth. Even the Range Rider bar was closed, al-though several pickups were still parked out front.
Some of the cowboys must have hitched a ride home rather than drive.
As he was headed back up the main drag, he heard an engine start up. A moment later, the glow of headlights poured out onto the two-lane highway that was Beartooth’s main street.
Without thinking, he stepped back into the shadows as the old pickup turned in his direction. He stayed pressed against one of the old building’s stone walls as the driver passed.
Callie. He recognized her in the glow of her dash lights. Her hair was down, skimming her shoulders, her face pale in the dim light.
Rourke cursed himself for being without his own vehicle as he checked the time on his cell phone. Where was the woman going at a quarter after three in the morning?
Stepping out of his hiding place, he watched her taillights grow dimmer and thought about Laura’s conviction that Callie was the killer he’d come looking for.
She touched her brakes at the end of town near the old gas station and garage. Turning, she headed back toward the Crazy Mountains.
Where did that road go? He didn’t know, but he planned to find out. Just as he would find out who she was going to meet in the wee hours of the morning up the mountain road.
He ran back to the cabin, jumped into his rented SUV and took off down the road in the direction Callie had gone. He kept thinking about the first time he’d seen her. His reaction still surprised him. Was Laura right? Was he obsessed with this woman and had been since he’d seen her face in a crime-scene photo?
If he was being honest, he’d had a theory since the first time he’d seen her image and realized she’d been at three crime scenes. He’d never thought she was a co-killer. But she was connected to the murders be- cause she knew who the killer was. Why she hadn’t come forward…well, he didn’t know. Like he said, it was just a theory.
He couldn’t explain it, even to himself. Just this gut feeling… He hadn’t shared his theory with Laura for obvious reasons. She had made it clear how she felt. Both of their reasonings seemed clouded by their own personal feelings. Laura really believed he was falling for this woman.
He shook his head at the thought as he drove. He’d always trusted his instincts. But at the back of his mind was an inkling of worry that he was wrong. Dead wrong.
Rourke reminded himself of what was at stake as he turned and headed back into the Crazies, as the locals called the mountains that shadowed the town of Beartooth. The gravel road narrowed quickly, turning to dirt. He had to slow down. When he came to a fork in the road, he stopped, unsure which route she would have taken since he didn’t know the area.
He tried the road to the right since it appeared to go deeper into the thickest wooded side of the mountains, but a few miles up the 4×4 trail, he finally had to turn around. The area was a honeycomb of old logging roads. She could have taken any one of them.
As he drove back to his cabin, he realized he wasn’t so sure about his theory anymore. Laura could be right. That sweet-faced woman who haunted his dreams could very well be a serial killer who, since it was al- most October, was now looking for her next victim.
Or she could be somewhere in those mountains with the man who did her killing for her. In that case, who had she already chosen for her next victim.
About B.J. Daniels
B.J. DANIELS, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist and author of 37 published short stories. That first book, ODD MAN OUT, received a 4 ½ star review from Romantic Times magazine and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue for that year. Since then she has won numerous awards including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and numerous nominations and awards for best book. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two Springer Spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America.