A Merciful Silence
Mercy Kilpatrick #4
June 19, 2018
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A rainstorm has uncovered the remains of five people—a reprise of the distinctive slaughter of two families twenty years ago. Except the convicted killer is in prison. Is this the case of a sick copycat, or is the wrong man behind bars? One person might have the answer. The lone survivor of the decades-old crimes has returned to town still claiming that she can’t remember a thing about the night she was left for dead. As the search for the truth becomes more dangerous, Mercy fears that the traumatized woman may not have buried her memories at all. She might be keeping them a secret. And there’s a price to be paid for revealing them.
Message from Kendra Elliot: Mercy’s road to the FBI
Mercy Kilpatrick, the heroine from my newest release A Merciful Silence, was raised by anti-government preppers in Central Oregon. She grew up learning to live off the land, avoid law enforcement, and never trust the government. When she was eighteen, she and her father had a falling out that forced Mercy from the home.
She entered the regular world but could never leave her prepping roots behind. She eventually joined the FBI—thereby becoming the two things that her father hated most. Estranged from her family, Mercy keeps one foot in the regular world and another in her hidden past. She can’t help but prepare for the end of the world. No one at the FBI knows she escapes to her mountain hideaway every weekend where she stocks firewood, food, fuel, and medical supplies.
An FBI domestic terrorism case pulls her to back to her hometown where she must face her family for the first time in fifteen years. The case takes place in a survivalist world with which she is all too familiar, and suspects some of her family may be involved.
Her GPS took her on a wet, winding trip thirty miles out of Bend. Mercy revered privacy, and it appeared Britta Vale did the same. The terrain was flat, with clumps of huge trees and fields of scattered volcanic rock. She took the final turn off the two-lane road and was pleasantly surprised to find a well-maintained gravel driveway. A wood fence lined one side of the drive, and Mercy idly wondered if Britta kept cows or sheep in the field. A wide creek rapidly flowed through the pasture, full of the recent rains. A few minutes later she stopped in front of an old white farmhouse. Fields flanked the house on two sides, and a small ancient grove of fruit trees was to the east.
The paint flaked from the two-story building, and large pieces of railing were missing from the wraparound deck. Lace curtains appeared at most of the windows, and a newer Ford pickup was parked next to the home. As Mercy stepped out of her Tahoe, faint barking greeted her, and she spotted a black lab inside, watching through a tall window next to the front door, alerting the residents that company had arrived. Its wagging tail defied the belligerent barks.
Overall, Mercy liked the home. It felt shy but friendly. Sequestered but welcoming.
The door opened and a woman appeared. In one hand she gripped the lab’s collar. With the other she balanced a rifle against her shoulder.
Not threatening, but making her stance clear.
Mercy approved. And stopped moving forward. Mercy stood with her right shoulder and hip slightly farther back and casually held her hands out in front of her stomach, the palms up. A nonaggressive pose, but she was ready to move to the gun in her shoulder holster if needed. “Britta Vale?”
“Who wants to know?” The woman’s tone was polite but direct. Her long hair was black. The flat-black, obviously dyed tone. Blunt-cut bangs just above Britta’s eyebrows gave her a no-nonsense look.
“I’m Special Agent Mercy Kilpatrick from the Bend FBI office. You’re welcome to call them to verify me.”
“Take three steps closer.”
Mercy took three measured steps, her hands still exposed. She felt the weight of her weapon at her side and watched Britta for any warning movements. The woman stood perfectly still, the dog’s wagging tail a contrast. At this distance Mercy could meet Britta’s gaze. The woman had light-blue eyes and skin that looked as if it’d never seen the sun. She also had a huge tattoo that wrapped around the front of her neck. Mercy couldn’t read it but wondered how painful the process had been. She swallowed, imagining tiny sharp needles jabbing at the tender skin on her throat.
The woman released the dog, who instantly sat, its dark eyes still locked on Mercy.
“Are you here about Grady Baldwin?”
“Yes,” Mercy answered.
“Is he out? I’m supposed to be notified if he gets out. No one has said anything to me.” Britta’s voice shot up an octave as the words spilled out of her mouth, terror and anger flashing in her eyes. Her fingers tightened on the butt of the rifle, and Mercy tensed.
“He’s not out and he’s not getting out.”
The woman lowered her chin a notch, and her shoulders moved as she exhaled. “I have nightmares about police vehicles abruptly showing up at my home, trying to get me to safety. They’re always too late.” She nodded at Mercy’s Tahoe. “You’re clearly armed, and you have government plates, so you understand my reaction.”
“I do. You are Britta, right?” The woman acted like a survivor, but Mercy wanted to be certain.
“I am. Why are you here?”
“Yesterday we uncovered five bodies. Possibly a family—we aren’t certain about that. But each one of them had been struck in the mouth. Their teeth and jaws shattered.”
The pale woman went a shade whiter as she slapped a hand across her mouth, and the dog whined, leaning hard against her thigh.
Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series, as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels: A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth, and A Merciful Secret. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born, raised, and still lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.