Most of the books I review have been sent to me by authors or publishers hoping I would read and like them. Usually I like them. They probably wouldn't go to the trouble and expense of sending a bad book.
Suspect, however, was passed on to me by my son, Dan, who knew I would like it but didn’t care if I reviewed it.
What’s not to like?
- It’s written by one of our favorite crime fiction writers
- A German Shepherd military dog is the star of the book
- Dan assured me that the dog doesn’t die at the end
For many years Dan and I have tried to avoid any book or film in which the dog dies at the end—even to the point of turning to the last page or so if necessary. While we may have passed on some good books, we just don’t want our lives darkened with Old Yeller Syndrome.
Like most young men of our time, Dan must have seen thousands of humans, cyborgs, and zombies get blown to bits on the screen. But if anything happens to a dog…
Scott James was an up and coming young patrolman with the Los Angeles Police Department. In a late night shoot out on the city streets, two men were killed by five masked men in a professionally planned and executed murder. After stumbling onto the scene, Scott’s partner, Stephanie, was killed and Scott was shot.
Maggie was a Military Working Dog in Afghanistan. She and Pete, her handler, were a devoted pack, living and working together. Then Pete was killed by a suicide bomber and Maggie was shot by snipers.
After several months the damaged war dog and the damaged police officer find themselves teamed together at an LAPD K-9 training facility. Unlike most handlers, Scott has no experience with dogs, but he was allowed into the program because of his insistence that he stay on the force to find the killers and not take a medical retirement.
Both Scott and Maggie are considered to be too physically and psychologically damaged to be of any service in law enforcement. Although Scott is determined to find the killers, it seems to be only a matter of time until he and Maggie are forced into retirement.
Very soon Scott develops a deep respect for the abilities of Maggie and she begins to accept him as the alpha of her pack. The thought processes of Maggie are so well written, it was almost as if the dog herself had dictated them in third person.
While Suspect is a well crafted murder mystery with intrigue and plot twists, it is more importantly a book about healing, about trusting, and about the human-dog bond.
Although I like Crais’ books with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, I hope this is the first in a series of the adventures of Scott James and Maggie. The combination of good detective skills by Scott and the uncanny abilities of Maggie, the trained war dog, should lead to a very entertaining series.
As long as he has sense enough not to kill her off.
As one of the characters in Suspect says: “I don’t wanna hear nuthin’ sad ‘bout no dog.”
For reading enjoyment if you like mysteries, I give Suspect as many stars as I have.