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Book Review- “Suspect”

crais-suspectI discovered the works of crime writer Robert Crais back in 1997 and have been reading him ever since. Over the years his novels have evoked a variety of emotions. They’ve scared me. They’ve excited me. They’ve moved me. And yes, they even made me cry. Usually those tears came about because of an especially emotional denouement. I never cried over the events that happened in one of his prologues until I read the writer’s latest novel “Suspect,” which is a stand alone novel not part of his usual Elvis Cole-Joe Pike series.

My tears came about because in that prologue we meet Maggie, a german shepherd that works for the Marine Corps sniffing out IEDs in Afghanistan. What makes this chapter so powerful is that it’s told from Maggie’s point of view. Crais expertly captures that point of view too. It feels believable. You understand how pure and noble a dog’s love for a human being can be. So when Maggie loses her partner in a surprise attack it’s utterly heartbreaking. I was sobbing by the end of the prologue.

Maggie isn’t the only character in “Suspect” that’s lost someone. The other protagonist is LAPD officer Scott James whose partner was gunned down in a mysterious night time assault that murdered two other people and left Scott severely injured. When the novel opens Scott has just about recovered from his energies and ready to be a cop again. Only he doesn’t want to become attached to another partner. So he transfers to the LAPD’s K-9 unit thinking that his connection with a dog would be superficial at best.

When it comes time to pair Scott with a dog he discovers Maggie who is still haunted by the events in Afghanistan and is considered unfit for duty. Scott is also still haunted by the death of his partner. So sensing a kindred spirit he decides to take a chance on Maggie and see if he can work with her and get her fit for duty.

That partnership between Scott and Maggie is the emotional center of the book, and it’s the reason why “Suspect” is so powerful and moving. Asrobert_crais they train and live together Scott and Maggie heal each others emotional wounds. The scenes are sweet, funny and full of heart. You see things from Scott’s perspective, but you also get Maggie’s point of view too.

I would have been fine if “Suspect” was simply about the friendship between Scott and Maggie, but Crais also give the duo a mystery to dig into that’s pretty compelling. Together the duo set out to find the people that murdered Scott’s partner and what really happened on that fateful night. It’s a harrowing tale too because by the time their investigation kicks into high gear I was so emotionally invested in Scott and Maggie that I genuinely feared for their safety.

Scott and Maggie’s investigation brings them face to face with both fellow cops and some seedy characters. You primarily see these characters through their eyes, but Crais occasionally shifts things and gives readers the perspective of a police detective and even the book’s main villain. It’s an interesting technique that spices up the story.

So ultimately “Suspect” is Robert Crais’ best stand alone novel to date. I’m a cat person, but I was absolutely captivated and tremendously moved by the bond between Scott and Maggie. That’s how good the book was.

Categories: Book Review
  1. Judith Richards
    March 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Excellent review. My feelings exactly!

  1. April 28, 2013 at 11:29 am

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