The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

August 12, 2013

Phyllis Seesengood: Dog gets starring role in Crais novel

JOPLIN, Mo. — Robert Crais has been one of my favorite authors for years. Because I am a huge fan of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series, I was anxious to begin reading "Suspect."

I hadn't read anything about the novel beforehand, so I didn't realize it wasn't part of that series. I quickly got over that disappointment as I continued with the novel.

The story begins in Afghanistan, where a suicide bomber kills Pete, a soldier and the handler of Maggie, a 3-year-old German shepherd specially trained to sniff out explosives. When a sniper shoots Maggie, her career as a military dog ends, as does her tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The story picks up several months later with Los Angeles police officer Scott James. Months have passed since Scott's partner, Stephanie, was killed in a brutal nighttime shooting that left Scott critically injured. He continues to suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain from injuries sustained in the shooting. Scott sees a psychiatrist in hopes that his flashbacks will reveal clues about the people responsible for the crime.

Scott joins the LAPD canine department, where he is paired with Maggie, who also suffers from PTSD and depression. Scott and Maggie are both considered too physically and psychologically damaged to be in law enforcement, but Scott is determined to find Stephanie's killers and refuses to give up his search.

Scott has no experience with dogs, but as he and Maggie work together, the two form a strong bond, just as Pete and Maggie had shared a close bond in Afghanistan. Scott and Maggie become a pack, with Scott being the alpha.

Scott, aided by police detective Joyce Cowly, investigates the crime that led to Stephanie's death. The crime unit assigned to the case has made little progress in solving the case, but the help he receives from other members of the unit has unexpected results that lead to deadly consequences.

Robert Crais is a master with character development and character relationships. The focus of the novel is the relationship that develops between Scott and Maggie as both recently lost their partners and need each other to heal.

Other characters central to the novel are Joyce Cowly, the detective who befriends Scott and helps him find the killer. Sergeant Dominick Leland is the "dog man," an expert in the handler/dog relationship who is quite vocal regarding the importance of the work of police dogs.

The author tells parts of the story from Maggie's perspective in a way that is unusually compelling and fascinating. He creates a truly unique and caring character in Maggie, but she still comes across as a dog, not a human character.

Crais explains in detail how a dog uses its extremely sensitive nose to distinguish different smells. It is easy to tell that the author has done tons of research on dog behavior and psychology, particularly on military and police dogs.

When I started the novel and discovered that a dog was one of the two main characters, I was hesitant to continue the story. I usually don't read novels about animals, especially dogs, since so many of these books end sadly. However, this book is different.

"Suspect" is an excellent novel by Robert Crais, especially if you are a dog lover -- and even if you are not. It is my favorite so far, and I hope to see more of Maggie and Scott and the other characters in future novels.

In the audiobook version, MacLeod Andrews delivers an excellent narration, giving each character a unique voice.

The novel is available at the Joplin Public Library in regular print, large print and audiobook formats.

Phyllis Seesengood is technical services librarian for the Joplin Public Library.

1
Text Only
Globe Life
  • 041314_cj glass1.jpg Carl Junction students create projects, win awards at national contest with glass arts

    The students are part of a new glass arts class at Carl Junction High School taught by Jessica Sellars, a graduate of the school who earned her bachelor's degree from Missouri Southern State University and her masters of art education from Pittsburg State University. The art teacher taught for 20 years at Coronado High School, located in Henderson, Nev.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: K-9 unit receives protection from donors

    I know I write a lot about pet advocacy in this column, but for a moment, I want to write about pet heroes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_032123610 Patty Crane: Reporter's mea culpa found in identity theft

    As I was browsing the library's list of new materials for March, "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa" by Michael Finkel caught my attention.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_312124454 Linda Cannon: Gardening book helps plan for spring

    In springtime, many of us think of gardening, so, come snow or sleet or whatever, it's time to get into those gardening books and see what improvements can be made to our yards (or decks or patios if that's all you have).

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: Pet deposits legal in Missouri, vary by state

    Building upon last week's column about what goes into moving and renting with pets, I wanted to touch on something that I wasn't too sure a lot of people were familiar with. I had a few people ask me about the legalities of a pet deposit and how it applies to residents in Missouri.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website allows access to news archives

    Between 1982 and 2011, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress worked together to develop a program called "Chronicling America." Each year, NEH gave monetary awards to institutions in various states to digitize 100,000 pages of old newspapers that relate to each state's history.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 040214 LIFE barbershop2_c.jpg Barbershop choirs grow in popularity thanks to singing TV shows, pop culture

    Singers call it the "angel's voice." The phenomenon occurs when a group of singers reach an identical chord, voices blended together as one, the harmonics justly tuned and balanced, creating a new frequency of sound that can "literally raise up the hair on the arm," said Don Snow.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Berries were big business in Southwest Missouri history

    Recently, I noticed some blooms on my strawberry plants on the patio, and I was reminded of my youth in the Ozarks when children often earned money by picking strawberries in the fields of local farmers. I, along with my sisters, brother and all the other children in the area, looked forward to the experience each summer.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case