In her fiction debut, A Borrowing of Bones, Paula Munier (The Writer's Guide to Beginnings) introduces retired Corporal Mercy Carr and her bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis. Both human and dog share a special bond with Elvis's handler, Sergeant Juan Miguel Pedro Martinez. When he dies in the line of duty in Afghanistan, Mercy and Elvis suffer a heavy emotional loss in addition to their physical wounds incurred during the same duty. Mercy promised the dying Martinez that she'd take care of his dog, so she arranges to take Elvis back to Vermont where they can focus on healing, inside and out.
In Vermont, the pair hike the quiet woods, meditate and bond. But Fourth of July weekend brings an unexpected commotion to their newfound calm. Mercy and Elvis discover an abandoned baby in the forest; game warden Troy Warner and his search-and-rescue dog, Susie Bear, respond to Mercy's 911 call. And when Mercy takes the pair to where she and Elvis found the infant, the two working dogs unearth an even bigger surprise.
Munier's multi-layered plot takes Mercy and Troy through the wilderness, the art world, a cat-infested crime scene and numerous dog-friendly restaurants. The small town possesses its fair share of delightful characters, including Patience, Mercy's grandmother and the local veterinarian. And it isn't wanting for evil crime suspects either. While some of the dog details may not sit well with canine enthusiasts, like an experienced dog handler treating another dog without established permission, the overall novel is an entertaining, escapist retreat. --Jen Forbus, freelancer