Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book Review: Suspect by Robert Crais

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great main characters that draw you into the mystery
Cons: Character development can overshadow the story early on
Bottom Line:
A cop and his dog
That will tug at your heart strings
In this stand alone

Becoming Pack

Robert Crais has a very loyal following in the mystery community.  I’ve read a few of his books over the years, and I keep meaning to go back and read more of them.  But with the release of the stand alone novel Suspect, I knew I had a place to jump in.  Now I know why he has such a loyal following.

Nine months ago, Scott James lost his partner and almost lost his life when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Now, he’s still recouping from his wounds and joining the K-9 unit of the LAPD.  He selects as his dog Maggie, a Marine Corp trained dog who lost her first partner in Afghanistan.

Both Scott and Maggie are suffering from PTSD and neither are certain about taking to each other.  But as Scott begins to investigate the still unsolved case that cost him his last partner, the two begin to bond.  Will it be enough to help Scott face the past?

Frankly, I’m a little unsure why I was drawn to this book.  Between my allergies and owners who can’t seem to control their dogs, I’m not much of a dog person.  And yet when I read the premise, I was intrigued.  And boy did it pay off.

Scott and Maggie are both real and deeply sympathetic characters.  I wasn’t that far into the book before I was rooting for the two of them to bond and have a happy ending.  Remember, I’m not a dog person, so this is saying something.  In fact, I would say that Maggie was my favorite character in the book.  There are a few others that stand out in the supporting cast, but most of the time is spent with Scott and Maggie, and it’s a pleasure to spend the time with them.

The plot?  Well, as a mystery this isn’t a barn burner.  It’s always a thread running through the story, but it doesn’t become the main focus until just past the half way point.  Once it does, hold on tight because it’s a great ride.  Until them, I found the struggles that Scott and Maggie were facing plenty fascinating to keep me turning pages.

The book is mostly written from Scott’s third person point of view.  Occasionally, however, we get a short chapter from Maggie’s point of view.  No, she’s not figuring out clues on her own, but it is an interesting peak into how those who study dogs think dog minds work right now.  It also helped me really bond with her character.  I know, I was skeptical when I first heard about it, but it really does work and doesn’t take away from the story at all.

Now that I’ve read Suspect, I will be making time to read more of Robert Crais’ backlist.  This is a masterful book that anyone, dog lover or not, will enjoy.

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