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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Review - Killing Trail

Apparently fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box will love this explosive debut.  "This suspenseful series kick-off introduces small-town Colorado's best crime-fighting duo, Mattie Cobb and her police dog partner, Robo"  This is a new for me series although it was published several years ago, so lets see how I felt about this debut.

Author: Margaret Mizushima

Copyright: December 2011 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 1st in Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries

Sensuality: clinical death of a teen, drug mules

Mystery Sub-genre: Police Procedural

Main Characters: Officer Mattie Cobb and pollice dog partner, Robo, 

Setting: Modern day, Timber Creek, Colorado

Obtained Through: Library Find

Book Blurb: "When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.

With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying.

The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn't careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come. " 

Mattie Cobb comes with wounds having grown up in foster care. Thus she trusts her dog partner, Robo, more than any human. She is the only female deputy, and she also won a cross country endurance test to be Robo's handler. She is all business and doesn't have much of a soft side except towards Robo. She may not be for everyone, but I think she makes an interesting lead.  Robo is a star.  He is well trained, works hard and plays hard, and is loyal to Mattie without question.  

Cole Walker is recently separated and a work-a-holic veterinarian who could be a romantic interest for Mattie. But he needs to grieve before he is ready IMHO.  Detective Stella LoSasso arrives to handle the investigation and becomes a temporary mentor as she works with Mattie.  Sheriff Abraham McCoy is a mountain of a man who sees Mattie's potential and encourages her.  Chief Deputy Brody has never forgiven Mattie for winning the endurance test and being Robo's handler, thus he makes her life difficult at every opportunity.
Mama T is Mattie's foster mom and a great character I want to seem more of in future novels.  And then there is Rainbow, the hippy-raised dispatcher who is the optimist continually trying to make friends with Mattie.

Timber Creek is a smallish town developing a bigger town's drug problems. It sits in the middle of the majestic Rocky Mountains which are well described to place the reader in the splendor. Thus providing the ugly side hiding within the beauty. Well done.

I liked this police procedural more than I usually do the subgenre.  It is well balanced with Robo and the scenes from the Veterinarian's point of view to keep it from being the gritty big city style. The plot shows the struggle to fight the creeping of drugs into the community without being completely jaded. I devoured the book so the pacing kept me glued to the pages.

The climax was a nail biting suspenseful confrontation where Mattie learns to fully trust Robo and he delivers. The killer wasn't entirely a surprise, but wasn't my top choice so, that was well done.  The wrapup sets up for ongoing adventures.

I liked that the romance is a slow burn since both Mattie and Cole have some serious baggage to deal with. I absolutely love Robo and how he is portrayed. Mattie could have been a dark character, but she is evened out with moments of growth and the character has tremendous potential.  I also love that Rainbow and Detective Stella LoSasso are supportive women for Mattie, fantastic touch. 

The opening is my favorite for its humor:
     "Pulling her cruiser up to a stop sign, Mattie stole a quick glance.  Born in Russia, he was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned.  Large and muscular, strong and rugged, he was the only one in the department who could outrun her in cross-country foot race.
     In addition to all that, he could sniff out a missing person.
     He was Timber Creek County's new police service dog, a German shepherd name Robo."

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Mystica said...

The series and the author are both new to me. Thanks for the post.

A.F. Heart said...

I know I'm always tickled to find a new series that I like and can look forward to!


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