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Mysteries by Merry Bloch Jones

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Harper Jennings--mother of a toddler, Iraq war vet, and archaeology graduate--knows she should be happy that she and her husband Hank are finally taking a child-free weekend to go camping.

But shortly after they set up camp, she stumbles upon the body of a camper. Is the shooting a hunting accident? Harper doesn't think so, and neither does Ranger Daniels, who suspects a local militia.

The militia, known as The Hunt Club, is serious about keeping outsiders off the land they see as their own. And there are plenty of outsiders. Gas company employees are inspecting a pipeline that runs through the woods. Frackers, who have already ruined the local water supply, are planning their next extraction. Environmentalists opposed to fracking are there to prevent more fracking. Weekend hunters show up, hungry to bring home fresh game. And a strange creature resembling a Yeti seems to be stalking and terrorizing campers.

Before the weekend passes, Harper will cross paths with these and other dangerous strangers as she finds herself hunted by killers and desperately lost In the Woods.


Available in hardback, paperback and ebook forms, IN THE WOODS will "appeal to readers who enjoy nontraditional sleuths and stories that feature current issues in the news."  BOOKLIST

NETGALLEY'S reviewer Mary Brown says,"I felt like I was right there watching the action first hand...(There were) twists and turns to keep me guessing."


Elle Harrison is back! She and her pals Jen, Becky and Susan travel to Mexico where Jen is having cosmetic surgery and where they'll stay with her in a plush hotel suite. Soon after they arrive, Elle sees the woman in the adjacent balcony fall to the ground. The dead woman's room is then occupied by another plastic surgery patient, Elle finds her brutally mutilated body on the same balcony.

Meantime, Jen's doctor takes an interest in Elle; a woman in the hotel asks Elle to help her fend off a creepy stalker; a veiled woman sneaks into Elle's suite at night, and Elle's late husband Charlie reappears (or Elle imagines that he does) to save her when she gets pushed under the water in the ocean and nearly drowns.

As dangers swirl and intensify, Elle is forced to face her unresolved issues with Charlie, even as she races to find the connections between the murders before more patients--including Jen--become are killed, and before she herself becomes prey.


"A rollicking read...to be enjoyed for the side-splitting romp that it is." MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE

"Great pacing...and...dishy plastic-surgery details...just perfect for poolside reading." BOOKLIST


"Evil can dig in its roots anywhere and can take on many forms. Smart people know that. Kenahara."

July. Israel. Iraqi war vet and archeology graduate Harper Jennings doesn't believe in the evil eye. So when Hagit (the woman assigned to show her and Chloe, Harper's 14-month-old daughter, around Jerusalem) drags the pair of them into a market to buy charms to ward off evil, it isn't the back luck Harper fears, but the market itself. Close, dark and crowded, the place worries Harper, and when an American man seems to be in trouble, it is only the presence of baby Chloe that stops her from wading in to help.

Later, to Harper's dismay, she learns that the man she saw has been murdered. So when she'd invited to tale part in a dig fifty miles away while her geologist husband Hank takes part in the international symposium that has brought them both to Israel, she accepts. It will be safer away from the city and the market, she thinks.

Butt Hagit, who's coming along to look after Chloe, disagrees. She is convinced the evil eye is to blame, and that it will follow Harper wherever she goes...



Elle finds the body of her soon-to-be-ex husband, Charlie on her sofa, stabbed to death with her kitchen knife. Elle's close friends stand by her through the difficult funeral, but Elle alone must face the loss of the man she'd loved. Except that the loss is not total--Charlie is still around. Elle feels his presence, smells his aftershave. Hears him accuse her of killing him. And even though she doesn't believe in ghosts, she argues with him, asserting her innocence. Oddly, Elle has a gap in her memory; she can't account for her activity during the time of his murder. As she tries to clear herself by finding out how Charlie died, she discovers that she had plenty of reason to kill him. Charlie had secrets. Infidelity. Unsavory business associates. Involvement with an international organization of sex abusers. The more she learns, the more danger she faces. As unscrupulous people begin to fear she'll expose them, Elle races against time to avoid arrest, fight off attackers, solve the murder, and make peace with Charlie's spirit.


The third Harper Jennings thriller! Pregnant Harper sees danger everywhere in the chilling third Harper Jennings mystery, but can she keep herself and her baby safe when no one believes her? Surely Harper Jennings can survive a visit from her mother and her new boyfriend while Hank’s on his first business trip since his accident? But she has more on her mind when she glimpses a nude young man being dragged into the woods near her house. Everyone – police included – concludes it was either kids playing around . . . or Harper’s hormones talking. But Harper can’t let it go; suspecting that her mother’s boyfriend might be hiding something, soon even her own home no longer seems a place of safety . . .


In this sequel to SUMMER SESSION, Iraqi War vet Harper Jennings is astonished when Zina Salim, her staunchest rival at Cornell's archeology department shows up on her doorstep late one night.  Zina is distraught, coming from work, babbling about seeing a Pre-Columbian shape-shifter there.  

Harper doesn't know what to think about the shape-shifter, but she spots an opportunity.  Zina has won an assistantship that Harper had badly wanted, cataloguing a collection of hundreds of Pre-Columbian artifacts recently willed to the university.  If Harper offers to accompany Zina to the lonely manor where the collection is housed, she'll be able to see the relics for herself.   

But when she arrives at the manor, Harper finds more than fascinating artifacts.  Zina is dead.  Suddenly, Harper's life turns upside down--her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder returns with terrifying intensity, and her husband, who seemed to be recovering so well after a terrible fall from the roof, grows withdrawn and depressed.  Then, members of her old army team start dying...

The closer she gets to the relics, the more danger she faces.  Harper knows the relics can't be cursed...Can they?


The first book in the Harper Jennings series

Severn House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Life is going well for Iraqi war veteran Harper Jennings.  She has physical scars and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but she's a survivor.  She's studying Archeology at Cornell where she works as a teaching assistant.  Together with her husband, Geology professor Hank Jennings, she's renovating an old Victorian-style house. Things are rosy.

Until the morning that Hank, doing repairs with friend Trent Manning, falls off the roof.

Harper's flashbacks of war flare up as she watches Hank land on his head.  His injury leaves him with aphasia, a condition which interferes with his speech.  Hoping for a cure, Harper takes him to Cayuga Neurological Center, and her flashbacks subside.

Until, as she's teaching, a student jumps out the window.

From then on, Harper's world flips upside-down.  She finds experimental drugs, stolen from the Neurological Center; she is assaulted; her home is ransacked.  Murders occur and the victims have one thing in common: they all connect to Harper.  Hank's doctor offers support--but can she trust him?  Or anyone?

Harper is caught in a web of perils both past and present, fighting to protect her students, her husband and herself from an insidious and uncontrollable source, which she alone can identify...


The fourth book in the Zoe Hayes series

Minotaur Books; 1st edition (September 16, 2008)

Zoe's got the dress and the flowers; she's even got the groom. Yes, in this fast-paced page-turner, Zoe Hayes is finally about to marry her detective beau, Nick Stiles.

Guests are gathering. Two of Nick's out-of-town, look-alike brothers crash at Zoe's house before the wedding, and, suddenly, Zoe has more on her mind than juggling her roles as mother, puppy-owner, hostess and bride-to-be. A female jogger is found murdered on her patio. It turns out that one of Nick's brothers has bumped into her on the sidewalk that very morning. Who is she? Why has she come into Zoe's back yard?

Not only that, an administrator from the Psychiatric Institute keeps calling even though Zoe is on a leave of absence from work. She assumes he wants to talk about her job, but, after he gets slammed by a car as he tries to speak to her on the street, she finds out that what he wants to discuss is far more frightening and deadlier than she could have imagined.

As the wedding date approaches, the body count grows, Nick's strange elusive third brother appears and vanishes, and dangers from all sides close in on Zoe and her children. People are not who they seem to be, and Zoe must protect her children, her wedding party and herself, even as the wedding guests gather and the family dresses for the nuptials.


Now available
from St. Martin's Minotaur

A taut, fast-paced suspense novel in the tradition of Mary Higgins Clark, The Deadly Neighbors again features the tension-packed storytelling of the talented Merry Jones.

In this third novel featuring art therapist Zoe Hayes, the neighbors are shocked when a woman's body is discovered in the kitchen of Zoe’s estranged father, Walter. In fact, they suspect Walter of killing her. But as Zoe investigates further, it seems that the neighbors are up to some pretty shocking shenanigans themselves.

As Zoe tries to prove her father’s innocence, she encounters a cruel ring of organized criminals who specialize in dark and deadly forms of entertainment. Trying to escape their grasp, Zoe—with her daughter, Molly, in tow—must solve a series of grisly murders, but in the process, stumbles into secrets that force her to reconnect with a lost and very frightening part of her own past….


(Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martins Press, 2005; paperback, 2006)

The first in the Zoe Hayes mystery series, The Nanny Murders is a mesmerizing page-turner about missing nannies who have disappeared, one by one, from a close-knit Philadelphia community.

Zoe Hayes, who works as an art therapist in an institute for seriously deranged patients, is the single mother of an adopted and adorable little girl named Molly. Zoe gets involved in the missing nannies case when Molly, playing in the snow, makes a grisly discovery—She finds a piece of litter that turns out to be a human finger.

One of Zoe’s neighbors (but which one?) seems to be a serial killer. Zoe and a mysteriously scarred detective named Nick Stiles team up to catch the killer when suddenly Zoe becomes the prey….

“A brooding nightmare with twists and turns to the very last page.”
FAYE KELLERMAN, author of Street Dreams

“The NANNY MURDERS is a fine debut, fast-paced and full of heart. Merry Jones maintains a grip on the reader from the first page and doesn’t let up.”
ROBERT FERRIGNO, author of The Wake Up

“Wow. What a zinger of a mystery! Zoe Hayes, like the inner-city block she lives on, is in perpetual, chaotic transition: a forty-one-year-old single mom intent on raising an adopted daughter, connecgting with friends, and making a life that does not include nannynapping and murder. Zoe is smart, tough, and tender; the mystery is taut, the settings vivid, the characters authentic. This may be Merry Jones’s first novel, but she is already an accomplished writer.”
SUSAN WITTIG ALBERT, best-selling author of the China Bayles mystery series

“Merry Jones has created her own new brand of riveting suspense in this page-turning series debut.”
KAREN HARPER, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of DARK ANGEL and the Elizabeth I mysteries


(Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martins Minotaur, 2006; paperback due winter, 2007)

The sequel to THE NANNY MURDERS, Jones’s suspense novel, THE RIVER KILLINGS weaves a gripping, fast-paced tale set on Philadelphia’s famous Boathouse Row. It begins just a few months after the previous book has ended, involving many of the same characters.

On summer vacation from her art therapy job, Zoe takes a sculling class for fun with her best friend, Susan Cummings. One evening, while her daughter waits with Susan’s children at the boathouse on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Zoe rows off with Susan to practice for an upcoming regatta. When Susan’s oar catches on some flotsam (which turns out to be a woman’s dress), the boat flips, and the two find themselves in deep waters with not just one but an entire throng of floating bodies.

Someone along Boathouse Row is a multiple murderer, but who? And why?

One night, after Zoe’s boyfriend, Detective Nick Stiles, goes to the river but doesn’t return, Zoe and Molly go looking for him and, unexpectedly, Zoe uncovers a sinister plot, far broader and deadlier than she has anticipated, and far more difficult to escape.

“A page-turning success…Hard to put down."

“Fast-paced fun…will leave readers breathless.”

“Absolutely fantastic…a character-driven whodunit with plenty of action.”

“Superb…Brilliant. Chilling. Riveting.”
CAROLYN HART, author of the Death on Demand series.