Thursday, July 10, 2008

REVIEW: Smoky Mountain Tracks

Title: Smoky Mountain Tracks
Author: Donna Ball
Protagonist: dog trainer Raine Stockton
Setting: present-day, mountains of North Carolina
Series: #1
Rating: C

First Line: If there's one thing that I've learned in my thirty-odd (sometimes very odd) years of life, it's that nothing good ever happens at three o'clock in the morning.

North Carolina native Raine Stockton knows the mountains and woods of Hanover County better than most. No longer a member of the local Search and Rescue team, Raine still gets a call in the wee hours of the morning: a woman and small child have been abducted and taken deep into the mountains. The police want to get right on this, and the nearest SAR team is too far away. Raine loads up her two-year-old Golden Retriever, Cisco, and joins the search. The mother turns up, but her little daughter is still missing. Everyone knows that, with the March weather in the mountains, time is running out for the child. But the case takes another bizarre turn, and Raine finds herself drawn into the heart of it whether she wants to be or not.

I wanted to like this book. I've been to that general area in North Carolina. It is beautiful. I love dogs. Ball obviously does, too, and she knows her stuff about training and the like. But in the end, this book just didn't do much for me. As soon as Raine opened a platt book, all the clues fell into place and I knew what had happened and whom the culprit was. Raine herself annoyed me: bum knee in a brace, she took needless chances with her life. I'm not particularly fond of any character, bum knee or not, who does this. Another character who can talk to dogs didn't set well with me either. I do believe a person can talk to dogs and understand their answers, but the way this was handled in Smoky Mountain Tracks gave it an unnecessary element of woo-woo. As good as the canine part of the book was, I doubt that I will be continuing with this series.

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