cover image A Bad Day for Mercy

A Bad Day for Mercy

Sophie Littlefield. Minotaur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-64838-1

In Antony Award–winner Littlefield’s solid fourth crime novel featuring Stella Hardesty (after 2011’s A Bad Day for Scandal), Stella leaves Missouri for Wisconsin, where her sister, Gracellen, has received a severed ear in the mail and a $30,000 ransom demand for Gracellen’s grown stepson, Chip. Things get even stranger when Stella arrives in Wisconsin and finds Chip, both ears intact, dismembering a body in his house with the help of his Russian girlfriend, Natalya. The pair swear they found the man, Benton Parch, who happens to be Natalya’s abusive ex-husband, dead when they got home from the movies; they’re only trying to clean up the mess. Chip and Natalya point Stella toward Benton’s former business partner, who’s angry that his name was left off the patent for a version of Spanx for men that the two invented. And then there’s the underground Botox ring to investigate. Littlefield makes sure her feisty heroine has plenty to do. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary Agency. (June)