In Robert Crais’ new book there are two heroes, one human and one canine. Scott is a member of the LAPD suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after he was shot and his partner Stephanie was killed on the job. He startles at loud noises, is on painkillers for his wounds, and has the same nightmare over and over – Stephanie calling out, Scotty, don’t leave me! Six months later the nightmares persist and the investigation into her murder has gone nowhere.
Maggie is a Marine, and a German shepherd. She is trained to sniff out bombs in Afghanistan. Her world is her crate and a green ball, and her pack is her handler Paul. But while they are on patrol, Paul is fatally wounded and Maggie is shot as she tries to protect him. Now she suffers from PTSD too, and has no crate, no ball and no one.
Still hurting from his wounds, Scott applies to the LAPD K-9 unit and despite not being a dog person, he is drawn to a German shepherd who watches but never engages. Despite misgivings about both the officer and the dog, the K-9 unit leader, Leland, pairs them up and very slowly Scott and Maggie get to know each other. Just as slowly, the investigation starts to pick up, but it is when Scott and Maggie hit a brick wall that the thriller really kicks in.
Crais switches perspectives from Scott to Maggie to tell his tale – although he very consciously keeps Maggie’s voice canine (there is no anthropomorphism here, and the story is the better for it). The chapters are short, succinct, and as the story develops, more perspectives are added and the pace picks up to racing speed, giving the story more depth. Although I picked it up for the mystery, the police procedural eventually took a back seat to watching how two wounded souls begin to trust, love and heal each other. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new series from Robert Crais.