No Mercy

No Mercy

A Mystery

  • reading group guide
From award-winning author Lori Armstrong comes a gripping tale of brutal murder, as former army sniper Mercy Gunderson learns anew when she returns to the family ranch that, for the weak, the western plains of South Dakota hold . . .

NO MERCY The body of a teenage Indian boy found on land belonging to the Gunderson ranch is just the beginning. When a second teen is killed, the crime moves even closer to home for Mercy. The Iraq veteran is no stranger to death, but these murders are deeply personal, recalling all too clearly a childhood marred by violence and tragedy. The local sheriff seems strangely apathetic, so Mercy throws herself into an investigation that is driven by a desire for justice . . . and retribution. But as she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, she uncovers dark and dangerous secrets involving those she loves. Now she must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416597063 | 
  • January 2010
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Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

In the arid summer heat on prairie rangeland, a dead body doesn’t so much rot as it becomes petrified. The blazing sun and dry wind burn the most resilient flesh into dried meat.

What the sun hadn’t cooked the animals had feasted on. A sunken hollow where the stomach had been. Shriveled flaps of skin resembling jerky hung from the jaw and cheekbones. The eye sockets were empty holes. The final indignity? The crotch of the athletic shorts were ripped away to reach the soft meat of the sex organs.

Poor son of a bitch had been emasculated before he’d had a chance to become a man.

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ONE

One week later

Listening to bawling cows headed for the slaughterhouse is a shitty way to start a day.

I slammed the front window shut and crawled back between the cool cotton sheets. When my father’s phantom voice nagged me for sleeping in, I jerked the quilt over my head.

Go away, Dad. I’m too damn old to feel guilty about not getting up at the crack of dawn to do chores.

It took me a while to get back to sleep. When I did drift off, the scorching summer afternoon from thirty years past came rushing back, dreamlike, except it hadn’t been a dream:
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for NO MERCY includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author Lori Armstrong. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

For Discussion

1. After Mercy left the Army and her father died, what drew her back to South Dakota? Do you think she had something to prove, and to whom?

2. What has changed about her hometown since she left? What has remained the same?

3. In the Army, Mercy was required to keep a tough exterior. What effect does it have on her relationships after she leaves the Army? Did this change as the story unfolded?

4. Mercy’s Native American friend John-John told her “it’s our nature to reach out to you.” How does Mercy’s Indian heritage affect how she views her family and home?

5. What symbolism do you see in the South Dakota landscape in relation to Mercy’s life? The relationship between the white and Indian residents?

6. Discuss the attitudes of the white locals towards the Indians on the reservation and vice-versa. Did any of those feelings change throughout the course of the story?

7. How does the depressed economy of Eagle River Reservation affect the characters in the story? What do you think could be done to help the imp see more

About the Author

Lori Armstrong
Photograph by Russell Lloyd Jensen / Sage Studios

Lori Armstrong

Lori Armstrong is the two-time winner of the Shamus Award given by the Private Eye Writers of America and a New York Times bestselling author of romantic fiction, written as Lorelei James. Her books have won the Willa Cather Literary Award and have been nominated for the High Plains Book Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She lives in western South Dakota. Visit her website at LoriArmstrong.com.

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