Saturday, July 20, 2013

Suspect by Robert Crais

First Sentence: Maggie stared at Pete with rapt, undivided focus.

Maggie is an 85-lb, black and tan German Shepherd trained by the military. When her partner was killed in Afghanistan, Maggie was wounded and sufferes from PTSD. She’s now with the LAPD, but the head of the unit isn’t certain she’ll ever be able to work. Scott James is a policeman who was shot, and whose partner was killed, in a shootout. The LAPD doesn’t really think Scott should return to duty. Now, in spite of everyone’s, and their own, doubts, they are trying to be partners and to find out who killed Scott’s partner, and nearly killed him.

Crais definitely knows how to tell a story. His experience as a screenwriter is evident on every page. He knows how to establish a scene, create characters, and write dialogue with a natural ear and flow.

What sets this book apart, from others he has written, is the use of first-person point-of-view for Maggie, the Shepherd. There is no question Mr. Crais did his research on both dogs in general, and on military and K-9 dogs in particular. What could have come off as cute, definitely does not. It does humanize Maggie, but most of us know dogs (and cats) are nearly human.

I actually had more problems with the character of James in that he came off a bit too macho, aren’t-I-tough at times; a little too stereotypical for me. Still we did see a couple instances of his more vulnerable side, and that helped.

Suspect” is a little predictable, and somewhat formulaic, but it is also a page-turner. It may not be great literature, but it is a darned good read for a weekend or an airplane trip. There’s nothing wrong with that.

SUSPECT (Pol Prod-Scott James/K-9 Maggie-Los Angeles, CA-Contemp) – Good+
Crais, Robert – Standalone
Putnam, 2013

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