Two Law Enforcement Women Team Up to Catch a Serial Killer

Sheriff Bree Taggert and FBI Special Agent Mercy Kilpatrick may battle crime on opposite sides of the country, but they have a lot in common besides being married to men involved in law enforcement. Bree was a police officer in Philadelphia when her sister was murdered in upstate New York. She relocated to take care of her niece and nephew and became sheriff in the small town of Scarlet Falls. Mercy’s brother was killed and she took over parenting his children while working out of the FBI’s Oregon office. Kendra Elliot, author of the Mercy Kilpatrick novels, and Melinda Leigh, author of the Bree Taggert series, have brought their two characters together for a engrossing thriller, Echo Road.

Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh

When two suitcases containing the remains of two women are found on the side of the road, Bree is called to the scene. Although the bodies are badly decomposed, both of the women are wearing pink dresses and “Barbie pink” nail gloss. The two women had been reported missing and may have worked in the sex trade. With violent crime rare in Scarlet Falls, the media seizes on the story, fanning public fears and making Bree’s job difficult. 

Meanwhile in Oregon, Senator Adam Holcroft’s daughter, Paige, is missing, and Mercy is on the case. Trying to avoid national publicity which could hamper the investigation, Mercy and Evan Bolton, a local county sheriff, agree to look for Paige on the down-low. While the Holcrofts believe that Paige’s kidnapping is somehow connected to the senator’s politics, Mercy and Evan discover that someone wearing “Barbie pink” nail polish, placed black electrical tape over the cameras around the Holcroft mansion. They conclude that Paige went willingly. That theory gains traction when Paige’s suitcase and her “slut dress,” described by her brother, Finn, are missing.

Following the news, Mercy learns about the two dead women in Scarlet Falls and zeroes in on the “Barbie pink” nail polish. When Paige’s phone records show she was talking to someone in upstate New York, she jumps on a plane. The appearance of an FBI agent in Scarlet Falls complicates Bree’s case with news reports alleging that a serial killer is on the loose. Mercy refuses to identify the missing Oregon woman, but she agrees to help in any way she can. 

The respect Bree and Mercy have for each other deepens, not only because they learn more about their backgrounds, but also because they approach investigations the same way, gathering information carefully. When Bree’s nemesis, Madeline Jager, the country administrator, offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer, tips flood in, overwhelming the officers.

One of the dead women, Vanessa, was a meth addict. Bree and Mercy travel down that road, talking to her husband, who is raising their two children, and interviewing Jimmie, Vanessa’s sometime boyfriend and all time drug supplier. That trail soon grows cold. A security guard at a local mall, reports seeing a woman being abducted by a man in a white car. The mall’s cameras aren’t working and the theory that the woman works in one of the stores doesn’t pan out.

More progress is made on the west coast once the FBI gets into Paige’s phone. They learn she was frequenting a website called CuffMe.com, which promotes bondage between consenting adults. While Paige’s parents are horrified, Mercy and Evan stress that Paige is young and impressionable, the perfect target for perverts trolling that website. 

Mercy and Bree are convinced that the serial killer took Paige and brought her back to New York. They feel they are getting closer to unmasking his identity. But will it be too late to save Paige?

I haven’t read other series by Elliot and Leigh, but they are now on my list. And I hope they follow up Echo Road with another Bree/Mercy thriller.

Echo Road
Kendra Elliot
Melinda Leigh

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (714 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.