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Tuesday 2 July 2013

‘Suspect’ by Robert Crais

Published by Putnam,
January, 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-399-16148-3

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.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Robert Crais is the author of the best-selling Elvis Cole novels. A native of Louisiana, he grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in a blue collar family of oil refinery workers and police officers.  After years of amateur film-making and writing short fiction, he journeyed to Hollywood in 1976 where he quickly found work writing scripts for such major television series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice, as well as numerous series pilots and Movies-of-the-Week for the major networks. He received an Emmy nomination for his work on Hill Street Blues. In the mid-eighties, feeling constrained by the collaborative working requirements of Hollywood, Crais resigned from a lucrative position as a contract writer and television producer in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. His first efforts proved unsuccessful, but upon the death of his father in 1985, Crais was inspired to create Elvis Cole, using elements of his own life as the basis of the story. The resulting novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat, won the Anthony and Macavity Awards and was nominated for the Edgar Award. It has since been selected as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Currently, Robert Crais lives in the Santa Monica mountains with his wife, three cats, and many thousands of books.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

1 comment:

  1. I finished it last night and loved Scott and Maggie!