SUSPECT by Robert Crais
I’ve been an Elvis Cole/Joe Pike fan for years, and I was really looking forward to January and catching up with my fave L. A. PIs, but that wasn’t in the cards this year. However, Robert Crais’s newest serving of cops and suspense was entirely awesome, with two characters that kept me nailed to the book until I finished it in the wee hours of the morning.
The prologue just breaks your heart, then the opening chapter kicks the pieces up into your throat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two characters meant for each other more than Scott James and Maggie. Except maybe Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo in Brian’s Song – the one with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams.
Maggie is a former United States Marine, a canine trained to seek out IEDs to protect her partner and the men he watches over. Scott James was an LAPD patrolman who’d planned on moving on over to SWAT, before he was gunned down and his partner was killed right in front of him.
Crais keeps the pedal to the metal in this one, although the actual action in the novel is less than I’ve come to expect in the Cole and Pike books. The emotional resonance, though, was cranked way up and hung over every page.
I loved the way Crais writes about the link between humans and dogs, about how dogs view their humans, and all the training that goes into making a military dog versus a police dog. Crais sketches in a fairly good foundation for that training, but I ended up wishing I knew more.
However, Crais also has a mystery to unfold and he does so in his usual well-articulated style. There was more going on with the cold-blooded murder he and his partner stumbled into than anyone thought, and it takes Scott and Maggie both to unravel all the secrets.
Scott James is a much different hero than Cole or Pike, an unfinished man who’s having to rebuild himself. Maggie won me over from the opening page, but Scott grew on me and I want another book about the two of them so that I know for certain he ends up in a good place.