Life has settled into a routine for Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb and her police dog Robo, they are finding their rhythm and gaining the mutual trust that makes K-9 teams so effective - she has also gained the somewhat grudging respect of some of her male colleagues. That respect is put to the test when she is called back early from a working weekend away to help search for the girlfriend of a fellow officer. They all hope that she will be found alive, but when her body is found they make the startling discovery that she was murdered.
With her colleague in shock it is up to Mattie to secure the crime scene, with Robo at her side to protect the scene, and to protect Mattie too. As they start investigating the crime it becomes clear that Adrienne Howard was keeping secrets, and that her carefree spirit came from a childhood that was anything but free and happy. As they learn more about her past and where she came from the number of potential suspects grows, but as they move through them it feels like something is missing. As Mattie and her team struggle to find answers the clock is ticking and they don't know who the next target will be.
Meanwhile, veterinarian Cole Walker is struggling to come to terms with his own challenges - never mind his growing feelings for a certain dog handling deputy. At home Angela is acting out and causing problems for their new house keeper, and on the professional front he is dealing with a mystery ailment that has struck down a race horse and threatens other horses at the stable. The owner seems helpful and interesting in getting the horse better, but she also seems very interested in Cole and his personal life which makes him more than a little uncomfortable. Can Cole solve the mystery and save the horses?
This series has been a delightful surprise and has lead me into reading other books about handlers and their working dogs as I look for something equally satisfying. Mizushima has an easy to read style that lets you drop into the world of Mattie and Cole without fuss, and moves along at a steady pace that keeps you hooked without making you feel like she is rushing along or dragging her heels. One of the most enjoyable aspects is that she shares the limelight for her characters so that it feels like a well rounded world view, that you are getting to know all the people in Mattie's world rather than just Mattie. You can tell that she knows what she is taking about with dogs and the veterinary practice Cole runs - it adds an authenticity and weight to the story.
One of the challenges of reviewing this series is that there are little twists and turns that I want other readers to discover for themselves rather than me spoiling them - so a little lighter review than normal but I still highly recommend this series.
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Reviewed by Brilla