First Line: Maggie stared at Pete with rapt, undivided focus.
Two post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers come together and heal each other in Robert Crais's novel Suspect.
Nine months ago LAPD officer Scott James saw his partner killed and was almost killed himself. He's a man filled with anger and shame, and all he wants to do is find his partner's killers. Unfit for duty in his original unit, he asks for a transfer to the K-9 unit. Accompanied by just a dog, he doesn't have to worry about losing another partner. He's teamed with Maggie, a war dog who survived two tours in Afghanistan sniffing out explosives before losing her handler in a firefight.
They are each other's last chance, and they'll be investigating the one case no one wants them to touch: identifying the men who killed Scott's partner. If only the case were as simple as that....
Before I go any farther, I have a warning: have a hankie in hand as you begin reading the prologue-- especially if you are a dog lover. I found the prologue in Suspect to be gut-wrenching, and although I wanted to wait a few minutes to calm down before continuing to read, I was already hooked.
Crais provides excellent insight into the mind of a dog, in particular the mind of a war or police dog. When Scott and Maggie are partnered, it's a learning experience for both of them, and it was so rewarding to watch them heal each other.
This isn't just the Scott and Maggie Show, however. Crais gives us some marvelous secondary characters in fellow police officers Cowley, Leland, and Budress. Leland as the hard-as-nails head of the K-9 unit and Budress who constantly risks reprimand for helping Scott may be a touch two-dimensional, but they're the sort of characters you love regardless of their cardboard tan tinge. The female detective Cowley is another story. You're never quite sure what she thinks of Scott. You're never quite sure what she's willing to do to help. You're never quite sure how tough she is. By book's end, your questions will be answered.
The investigation into Scott's partner's death is filled with plenty of danger. Crais is a pro at ratcheting up the suspense. As is always the case when a dog is a member of the cast, readers always wonder about Old Yeller Syndrome, especially in a story involving the police and lots of flying bullets. I'm not about to enlighten you here. All I'll say is that I was hooked from the prologue and couldn't read fast enough. Scott and Maggie are going to stay with me for a long time. They're that good.
Suspect by Robert Crais
Berkley © 2014
Paperback, 416 pages
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen