I seem to have developed a thing for cozy mysteries involving spies. I’m honestly not sure how it happened. Was I looking for spy novels and thought these sounded cute? Or was I looking at cozies and decided spies would be a nice change from amateur sleuths?
Merit Badge Murder is the first book in the Merry Wrath series. A CIA agent is forced into early retirement after being outed on national television. She changes her name Merry Wrath and settles in her family’s hometown in Iowa. After a year of doing nothing but helping with a local Girl Scout troop, Merry’s new life is turned upside down. First, she finds a dead terrorist at the Girl Scout camp, then hits a Colombian drug lord with her car. Her former handler shows up to investigate, but he brings along a former asset Merry recruited. If that weren’t enough, the gorgeous new neighbor across the street is the police detective who has been assigned to investigate. Merry just wants her boring life back so she can buy some curtains and try to be normal.
This book was really adorable and a fast, fun read. I liked that it was willing to lean into the ridiculous. I loved Merry’s relationship with her best friend Kelly and the developing friendship with Lana. But there were a few things I really didn’t care for. First, Merry’s character makes no sense. She’s in hiding in her hometown and no one recognizes her because her hair’s now blonde. Why doesn’t she understand that normal people have furniture and curtains and groceries? She wasn’t born a CIA agent. And I hate the love triangle. It’s been done so many times before and it’s rarely done well. Riley is an annoying jerk and Rex is just a pencil sketch of a character. I also wasn’t crazy about who the villain turned out to be. All that being said, I enjoyed it enough I’ll read the next one.