Friday, March 9, 2018

Blessed are the Merciful by Kristi Belcamino: Reading Room Review

Reviewing Blessed are the Merciful, the sixth and final book of the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery series, is an emotional challenge for me. The first Gabriella Giovanni book, Blessed are the Dead, was my first Kristi Belcamino book and how I first came to know this talented, generous author. After reading that first book, I knew that Kristi was a special writer, a master storyteller. And, she has proved herself to be a versatile author, expanding her oeuvre to include the fierce Gia Santella series; a stand-alone Young Adult book that rocks and rolls, City of Angels; and a recently released stand-alone that chills you to the bone, Shadow Man. But, it all began with Gabriella Giovanni, who captured my heart and imagination, and started me on a journey of reading that has enriched my reading life and my personal life immeasurably. If this farewell salute sounds like a love letter to this series, well, it is. Saying goodbye to Gabriella and the other outstanding characters in the series was hard and messy, with tears for all.

So, this final adventure with newspaper reporter/crime solver Gabriella and her husband, DEA agent Sean Donovan starts with a scene of domestic bliss, as the Gabriella and Donovan eat breakfast with their three children, a hard fought for bliss. However, when Gabriella gets to work, a phone shatters that bliss with three simple words, "You are dead." She immediately recognizes the voice as that of El Loro, the drug king who had imprisoned both Donovan and her in Guatemala a year and a half earlier. Escaped from a Mexican prison, El Loro is out for revenge, blaming Gabriella for his capture and imprisonment. When shortly after the call, Gabriella narrowly escapes a car bombing, her car, and an attack is attempted on her family, decisions come quickly for Gabriella to accompany Donovan to Guatemala in pursuit of the man who wishes to destroy their lives and continue his drug trafficking business. But as usual, things don't go as planned once they reach a DEA safe house in the jungles of the country with so many bad memories for them. Donovan leaves with his three-man DEA team for a meeting telling them where to find El Loro, and Gabriella must wait behind for further action. Of course, action finds Gabriella before Donovan returns.

Within hours of Donovan's departure, Gabriella finds herself compelled to join forces with others to bring down the mighty drug lord, and once again she is separated from her husband in the wild surroundings of a country bent on defeating her. But, Gabriella will do anything to keep her family safe now and in the future, and so she trudges through the impossible, making decisions and taking actions focused on that sole goal. With her children in the capable hands of her step-father, the Saint, Gabriella goes for broke in the final struggle to establish peace in the lives of those she loves, no matter what the cost.