cover image In the Woods: A Harper Jennings Mystery

In the Woods: A Harper Jennings Mystery

Merry Jones. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8444-2

Jones’s disappointing fifth Harper Jennings mystery (after 2013’s Outside Eden) takes the Iraq War vet with PTSD and her geology professor husband, Hank, to Pennsylvania’s Black Moshannon State Park for an ill-fated camping weekend. The Jennings soon run afoul of a survivalist group known as the Hunt Club, whose members are upset about a pipeline project, fracking, and government intrusion into their forest. Could the Hunt Club be behind the shooting deaths of inexperienced hunter Phil Russo and pipeline worker Albert Rogers? Philipsburg police chief Joe Slader muddles the investigation, while some locals worry that a creature known as the Bog Man is on the loose. As the Hunt Club’s head (aka the “sector chief,” though many readers will easily guess whom he is) loses control of the group’s panicky members, the violence escalates. Shallow characterizations and a plot too silly to carry conviction make this a lesser entry in the series. Agent: Rebecca Strauss, McIntosh & Otis. (Feb.)