There are two protagonists in this newest novel by Robert Crais: Maggie, a 3-year-old, 85-pound black-and-tan German shepherd dog [more formally named Military Working Dog Maggie], and LAPD cop Scott James, 32 years old with seven years on the job. But lest you think this is one of the tales told from an animal’s pov, complete with animal dialogue, think again: It is far from it. [Though it must be said that there are brief passages with a Maggie pov, but these are a whole ‘nother thing.] Maggie was a patrol/explosives-detection dog and, as with all MWD’s, was bred to guard and protect what was hers. (An eloquent description of one of the scents she is able to detect: “the residual gunpowder that clung to [her handler’s] weapon like a fine dust of death.”)
Scott, having been partners with uniformed LAPD officer Stephanie Anders (herself on the job for eleven years) has been recently accepted into LAPD’s Metro Division, the “elite uniformed division” in the city. As the story opens, the two cops come upon what seems to be a routine auto accident that turns into anything but, with masked men from one vehicle brutally murdering two men in the other, before shooting and killing Stephanie and leaving Scott close to death and guilt-ridden over his partner’s death.
More than nine months later, Scott still has recurrent and horrible nightmares, but has refused to take medical disability or sit behind a desk, and when a slot opens up in the Metro K-9 Unit he applies for that. And is partnered with Maggie, making a duo each half of which is suffering from severe PTSD. Maggie also lost a partner, in Afghanistan, and she is as badly scarred from that incident, mentally and physically, as is Scott is from his.
Sgt. Dominick Leland, for 32 years on the job as a K-9 handler and a living legend in the LAPD K-9 Corps, expresses the following opinion about the pairing of the two: “That poor animal is unfit for this job, and I suspect the same about [Scott] . . . They are suspect.” Scott, still feeling enormous guilt over Stephanie’s death, is determined to see that investigation through to its end, and he, and Maggie, continue to do so.
This is an extraordinary tale, expertly written. Mr. Crais takes the police procedural to a whole new level. It is that, of course, but much, much more. The author makes palpable the bond between man and dog, as well as the concept of “pack:” “Pack was everything.” I devoured this book, and it is highly recommended....Continua