Suspect – Book Review

SuspectA dog could see your heart in your eyes, Budress told him, and dogs were drawn to our hearts. – from Suspect –

LAPD cop Scott James is battling PTSD after a violent incident where his partner, Stephanie, was killed and Scott was seriously wounded. More than nine months have slipped by and the detectives assigned to crack the case have come up empty. Meanwhile, Scott has joined LAPD’s elite K9 squad, a position he may not be capable of filling given his frequent flashbacks, anger and an inability to let go of the guilt he feels every time he thinks of Stephanie.

Maggie is suffering from PTSD too – but hers is of the canine variety. After surviving three tours as a marine K9 in Iraq and Afghanistan, the dog is back in the United States after witnessing the sudden and violent death of her handler. Donated to the LAPD for evaluation, her chances at a come back as a police canine don’t look too promising – she reacts with fear when a gun is fired, and seems to have lost her heart for the work she was bred to do.

Scott and Maggie seem meant for each other. It isn’t long before both are plunged deeply into the murder investigation of Stephanie, but someone doesn’t want them to get any closer to the truth. What they discover together will either kill them both, or help them find their way back to the jobs they love.

Robert Crais has written a suspense-thriller with loads of heart. I was only 15 pages into the novel and found myself riveted…and crying. I have to confess, I am often put off by novels that feature working dogs. I almost always find errors or plot holes that don’t fit with my knowledge of what it is like to work a dog. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself pulled convincingly into Suspect, a book which captivated me and kept me reading nearly non stop.

Crais clearly has done his research (although he offers an author’s note which explains some looseness with the “facts” for the sake of the story). I loved that he chose a female German Shepherd as the working K9 in the book. When I was working my dog in Search and Rescue, I was dismayed that so many law enforcement personnel thought the best dogs in police work had to be male…a belief I frequently argued against based on my female dog’s heart, drive, courage and intelligence.

Suspect is first and foremost a fast paced thriller. But it is also something a little more. Crais explores the after effects of violence on those in law enforcement – both human and dog. He also creates a love story of sorts between Scott and Maggie. Anyone who has ever opened their heart to a dog knows the power in that relationship.

There are sections in Suspect which are written solely from Maggie’s limited point of view – a technique that can quickly go awry if not done well. Crais clearly knows what it is like to live inside the brain of a dog and these parts of the novel were some of the best.

Suspect is a novel which will appeal to anyone who loves dogs or has worked a dog – but it will also reel in readers who love great characters and fast-paced writing. Alone, Scott and Maggie are just characters struggling to recover from trauma, but together they are a crime team with incredible heart who will win over readers.

Highly recommended.


FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.


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1 comment

  1. I haven’t actually read any thrillers with dogs in them, I’ve heard mixed responses about them. This sounds one that works, though. Interesting to hear your personal experience, I’d always thought if the dog’s the right breed and is courageous then that’s it.

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