Exceptional Crais produces a first for reviewer
By Derryll White
Crais, Robert (2013). Suspect.
I always expect a lot from Robert Crais. Over the years he has taken his principal characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, and turned them into iconic figures. They are as strong and dominant in the mystery genre as Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Robert B. Parker’s Spenser. So, as I said, I expect a lot. And neither Elvis nor Joe are in this novel.
By the end of the first chapter of ‘Suspect’ I had tears rolling down my cheeks. That I wasn’t prepared for and wondered if I was turning hormonal or something. Crais created a strength and intensity in a dog, Military Working Dog (MWD) Maggie T415, that lifted me out of myself and my own reality and placed me on a dusty, dirty and hot, sunbaked road in Al Jabar Province, Afghanistan.
A military platoon was deployed behind me and a herd of goats and a shepherd were approaching. The transformation was complete and Maggie’s terror and loss became mine. After I had calmed down I thought, “WOW, that has never happened to me before, 15 pages into a novel. Amazing!!”
Much of the novel is taken with the bonding of two broken souls. Maggie was shot twice by a sniper while trying to protect her dead partner, Pete. LAPD cop Scott James was shot three times while trying to save his dead partner Stephanie. On the men Maggie and Scott are thrown together as partners on the LAPD K9 squad. The story evolves as a study of trust, love and courage. Crais tells it in an exceptional manner.
I was moved by the possibilities of non-human interaction right through until the end. I will never again walk a dog of mine in the same manner, and hopefully I will become a more trusting person. This book is really worth the read.
Excerpts from the novel:
PTSD – Scott put the watchband back into its bag, sealed it, and stretched out on the floor. His shoulder hurt. His side hurt. His leg hurt. His head hurt. His entire body, his past, and his future all hurt.
He looked up at the diagrams and pictures pinned to the wall, seeing them upside down. He stared at Stephanie’s picture. The white line surrounding her body was bright against the blood cloverleaf upon which she lay. He pointed at her.
SENSE OF SMELL – “She smells like we see. Just laying here, she’s picking up thousands of scents, just like we’re seeing a thousand shades of green and blue and whatever. I say, show me the orange you instantly spot the orange, and don’t think twice about all those other colors. It’s the same way for her with scents. If she was trained to alert to dynamite, you can wrap dynamite in plastic, bury it under two feet of horseshit, and douse the whole thing with whiskey, and she’ll still smell the dynamite. Ain’t she amazing?”
DOGS – Budress had cautioned him not to look back or wave bye-bye or any of the silly things people did. Dogs weren’t people. Eye contact would make her struggle harder to reach him. A dog could see your heart in your eyes, Budness told him, and dogs were drawn to our hearts.
– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them. When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.