Reckless Creed by Alex Kava is the 3rd book in the Ryder Creed series (Available September 27, 2016).
Dogs have a nose for just about everything. If it is there, they will sniff it out. Their sense of smell is forty times more powerful than ours and, for me, what’s even more impressive is the fact that they can wiggle their nostrils independently. So it’s no surprise to find that Ryder Creed uses dogs for search and rescue in Reckless Creed.
In this finely crafted tale by Alex Kava, Ryder employs the skills of just one of his dogs, Grace, who, like Creed’s other dogs, is an animal Creed actually rescued himself. One dog is enough; anymore and they compete for scents, which can lead to confusion in the search. Creed’s decision pays off, as Grace finds the body of a young woman who has met a strange and untimely end thanks to a pocket full of rocks in a river in Southern Alabama. Turns out she's not the only one—a young man in Chicago has exited his hotel room via the 19th floor window.
Maggie O’Dell, a profiler for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is summoned and met at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago by Detective Lexington Jacks. The dead man’s demise is neither routine nor straightforward, and it requires a closer look and application of O’Dell’s special skills. The two are joined by a Colonel from the U.S. Army, which lets the reader know this will be no ordinary story of murder and intrigue.
Ms. Kava expertly weaves a complicated yet gripping thriller. Nothing is as simple as it seems—a woman who appears to be a tourist in New York is wandering about, getting lost on Broadway in an attempt to make her way to Fifth Avenue (as happens to so many people unfamiliar with the city), but it turns out she is actually on a mission that is linked in a macabre and eerie way to the deaths in Chicago and Alabama. The clock continues ticking as Creed and O’Dell try to pull it all together, but no one seems to be co-operating and danger rears its ugly head at every turn.
Creed noticed the dogs’ reactions before he looked up and caught a flash of black metal moving through the tree line. Several of the dogs jumped at the fence, restless and alarmed with ears pitched forward. Noses sniffed the air. Heads turned. All of them pointed toward the driveway, a quarter-mile stretch that wound through the forest.
His view was limited. All Creed could see were slivers of the black vehicles and glints of light reflected off the windshields. But it looked like a long caravan, reminding Creed of a funeral procession. His stomach tightened. His jaw clenched.
This wasn’t good.
He weighed his options.
How long would it take to run up into his loft and get the revolver he hid underneath his mattress? The shotgun was clear across the property, locked up in the training facility. Before he had time to choose, the first SUV made the turn onto the property.
They knew enough to drive past the two-story house and the sign that directed visitors to the K9 CrimeScents office on the first floor. But the house was also the residence for Hannah and her two young boys, and Creed felt a slight relief. It was short-lived as he watched the huge black Suburban drive up over the grass and head directly toward him and the dog kennels.
The body count increases as the book progresses, but it never devolves into a bloodfest. Each death has its own story, and the author never forgets the importance of keeping the reader engaged, interested, and as intent as the main characters in finding out the truth, no matter how unpalatable or unpleasant that is. And it is indeed unpleasant, as the events unfold and link New York, Chicago, and Alabama in a way the reader will not see coming.
O’Dell was already questioning Wurth’s plan. The streets were jammed bumper to bumper, and in between the lines of vehicles, crowds of people spilled out of the theater.
Wurth avoided glancing back at her. He was in the passenger seat of the white van, driven by one of his men. The guy actually looked like he belonged to the electrical company whose logo decorated the outside panels.
Rieff and O’Dell sat in the windowless back on a bench seat that faced the sliding door. It was a bit claustrophobic with all the spools of cable and equipment. Wurth had actually arranged to borrow what looked to be a real company van. Instead of being impressed, O’Dell wanted to ask him how he thought they could make a quick getaway stuck in traffic that inched along.
The dogs are more than just passing extras in this story. They play a role that increases as the tension racks up, and they feature most extensively in the climax, which will make your toes curl and blood run cold as any good thriller should actually do.
I am impressed with the depth of the characters, the intricacy of the story, and, of course, remain absolutely in awe of any living thing that can wiggle their nostrils independently. If you are not a dog lover, I believe you might change your mind by the time you finish this breathless tale that brings O’Dell, Creed, and other interesting characters together in a veritable race against time.
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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.