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Sunday 25 October 2015

‘Breaking Creed’ by Alex Kava

Published by Sphere,
14 July 2015.  ISBN: 978-0-7515-5583-3 (PB)

I first encountered Ryder Creed, ex-military turned search dog trainer and handler, and protagonist,of Alex Kava’s new series, when he appeared in her earlier action-packed series featuring FBI maverick hotshot Maggie O’Dell.

In Breaking Creed, Maggie plays a substantial supporting role, but the central action shifts to Creed, who has made a business out of supporting a variety of law enforcement agencies when there’s a need to seek for bodies, drugs, bombs, crime scenes and anything else which will benefit from the application of a sharp, well-drilled canine nose.

Sparks flew in several senses last time Creed’s path crossed Maggie’s, and this book weaves that theme into the eventful narrative. But that’s just one of several threads laid down here, which will no doubt develop as the series progresses and gathers momentum.

The main focus is on a complex web of events which encompasses people trafficking, drugs and several particularly unpleasant murder weapons, which all come together in the kind of satisfyingly explosive climax Kava’s fans have come to expect.

As well as great plots, she also creates engagingly flawed characters, with pasts and issues which make them all the more intriguing. For instance, Creed’s level-headed business partner Hannah is a war widow who volunteers at a refuge for young people damaged by life in various different ways.

Creed himself is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, complete with nightmares and a touch of PTSD; and he also can’t let go of the still unsolved abduction fifteen years ago of his young sister.

Maggie O’Dell has problems of her own, including a boss determined to squash her maverick tendencies and with them her talent for piecing together clues and mysteries which other people miss.

With both Creed and Maggie, Kava builds a picture of people who try to detach themselves from pain and emotion, but don’t quite succeed. Both adore their dogs, and Kava clearly does too; Grace, Creed’s multi-purpose search Jack Russell terrier, is arguably one of the most engaging personalities in the book, and several others have a large part to play.

Breaking Creed is the first in the new series, with a second already on the way. It’s not for the faint-hearted (the bug-phobic should maybe avoid this book!), but it’s definitely one for dog-lovers. If the rest live up to this colourful, pacy opener, thriller fans are in for a treat.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Alex Kava is the author of ten previous novels, eight of which feature her series heroine Maggie O'Dell. A former PR director, Alex dedicated herself to writing full-time in 1996.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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