Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Review: Dogged by Sandy Dengler (Valley of the Sun Mysteries #7)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters; strong mystery
Cons: I have issues with the climax
The Bottom Line:
Return to Phoenix
So great to see characters
Most enjoyable

Joe and Tommy must Doggedly Track Down Another Killer

I knew that Sandy Dengler had released several books she's written over the years that had never been published to Kindle, but I was surprised when I saw she's released a brand new book in the Valley of the Sun series this year.  As soon as I saw Dogged, it motived me to get the earlier books in the series reread so I could read this new chapter in the lives of Joe Rodriguez and Tommy Flaherty, the Phoenix police detectives this series follows.

It starts with the discovery of a naked body in Camelback Mountain.  The victim, a female, had been discovered not too far from a hiking path by some early morning hikers.  The weirdest part is that all of the bones in her legs and arms had been broken before she died.  Joe and Tommy are assigned to the case, but while they are still tracking down the victim's identity, another body is found.  This one has the same broken bones, but it is several months older.  What kind of serial killer do they have on their hands?

Joe is trying to focus on the case, but his thoughts keep straying to Bridgid, Tommy's cousin Joe met on a recent trip to Ireland.  He's definitely attracted to her for many reasons, but the fact that she is 15 years younger than him bothers him.  Will he be able to focus on the case?

I was surprised when I started this book and realized it was going to be a serial killer mystery since the earlier books in the series were more traditional mysteries with only a couple of victims.  But this book doesn't delve too much into the standard serial killer tropes where the heroes attempt to figure out the mind of the serial killer, etc.  Instead, we get some good police work as they track down leads and interview potential suspects.  I will say I found the ending a bit disappointing as it hit not one but two of my soap boxes, but it does wrap things up successfully.

I definitely feel this book still falls into the traditional side of the mystery spectrum.  The book doesn't get much more graphic than what I've mentioned in my teaser, and these things are mentioned in a matter of fact way without dwelling on them.

The original four books in this series came out in the 1990's, and I must admit I wondered if the series had been updated any before the author epublished them since I reread those four in my original paperback copies.  I hadn't found any real hints in the others about time period, but this one answers the question firmly early on when one of the characters is thinking about the potential computer issues that are upcoming with Y2K.  Yep, we are still firmly in the 1990's, and I actually found some of that fun as characters are discussing how big cell phones are or the fact that not everyone carries them everywhere.  How times have changed.

It truly was wonderful to visit these characters again.  I felt right at home slipping into their world, and I enjoyed seeing how the characters are growing and their lives moving forward.  There's quite a cast here, and we get to see all of them at some point.  While most of the book is told from Joe's third person point of view, we do get a few scenes from other characters that help us get to know them better as well.

While my issues with the climax did annoy, I still found them minor, overall.  Dogged is a wonderful fresh visit with a group of characters I didn't think I'd get to visit again, but I’m very thankful we got this visit.

Be sure to check out all of the Valley of the Sun Mysteries.

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