Merry Wrath, a former CIA agent whose cover has been “accidentally” blown is trying to stay under the radar in Iowa in Merit Badge Murder by Leslie Langtry. But on a camping trip with the girl scout troop she leads, Merry comes across the body of the number four Al Qaeda operative, Ahmad Maloof. What is he doing in Iowa? But things get worse when Merry runs over Carlos the Armadillo, the top drug lord in Colombia, who dashes in front of her car with no opportunity for Merry to halt. Thus, her former CIA partner, Riley, comes to town to manage things. Then, Svetlana, a blond knockout Russian FSB agent whom Merry has turned and who has just had to flee Russia, shows up at Merry’s door, announcing that she is Merry’s new roommate. Riley pushes Merry to accept “Lana” into her home to hide and protect her, which Merry grudgingly accepts. But soon news cameras from every network news station show up in front of Merry’s door, including Wolf Blitzer from CNN, creating more problems. But worse issues arise when Lana finds Midori Ito, the sadistic and torture-loving head of a Japanese gang syndicate, dead in Merry’s kitchen. Why are the top terrorists in the world converging in Iowa?
The book continues with adventure and fun, as we watch Merry try to figure out who is friend and who is foe. We take turns with Merry questioning the veracity of each person in turn.
This book is full of excitement, with a touch of humor too. I liked the dynamics among the four main characters. Merry and her lifelong best friend Kelly help each other out and cover for each other. I really enjoyed the scene where Lana takes over their girl scout troop with great success and the adoration of the girls, as well as their fathers. I also appreciate the way that Merry, the narrator of the book, thinks of the new hot detective who has just moved in across the street from her as her future husband. This is so indicative of how many women think about the men they have a crush on, especially ones they don’t have a close relationship with. Merry’s conflicted relationship with Riley, her former CIA partner, also comes across as realistic. But I must say as a 4th generation Californian, I don’t think that Riley’s dedication to tofu and other health food is particularly caused by his being from my state.
I also enjoyed the CIA weaponry that Merry has stashed from her years in the field. My personal favorite was the camera hidden inside a box of tampons, since men tend to be afraid to get too close to feminine hygiene products.
I enjoyed the narration of Bailey Carr in the audio version of this book. She makes me think that I really am hearing Merry’s voice. I am not sure about her Russian accent, though. I have had several Russian friends, and they do not sound like the voice Carr uses, but this does sound like an accent you might see on some of the Cold War movies. However, I do really enjoy the experience of listening to the book, and that is what is important.
I particularly enjoyed Merit Badge Murder and am eager to get to move on to the next book in the series, which I definitely plan to listen to soon. Stay tuned in a few months for an interview with the author, Leslie Langtry, and in the meantime read the series to get prepared! I give this book five stars!
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