by Cynthia Chow
This week we have reviews of 2 K-9 mysteries perfect for pet loving mystery readers-Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima and Bending the Paw: A Paw Enforcement Novel by Diane Kelly. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win copies of both books and links to order them from Amazon at the end of each review, and an indie bookstore at the end of the post (if you have adblocker on you may not see the Amazon links).
Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Review by Cynthia Chow
Timber Creek Deputy Mattie Cobb is anxiously anticipating her upcoming vacation. A DNA ancestry database led to the discovery of a family she didn’t know she still had, and in less than a week, Mattie will be leaving Colorado to meet her sister and abuela in California. To help alleviate her anxiety until then, Mattie and her K-9 partner Robo join wildlife manager Glenda Dalton on a hiking trip to Hanging Falls. The peaceful setting is shattered by the discovery of a body washed up at the bottom of the rapids, a young man whose clothing resembles that of a new religious community. Another troubled man camping near the falls is an obvious suspect for what is obviously not an accident, but without hard evidence, the police are forced to release him back into the woods. It’s an act they regret when they soon find Tracy Lee dead as well, his hanging body making it evident that he was either involved or more likely a witness. As Mattie and Robo continue their daily duties tracking down thieves and tackling fugitives, she is drawn into another case where a predatory construction company may have been taking advantage of the vulnerable following a destructive windstorm.
The one unexpected benefit of Mattie having to cancel her trip is that her newfound relatives are making this a case of “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain,” with the two women now eagerly on their way to Timber Creek. Having been violently separated from them as a child, abandoned by her mother, and then raised in a series of foster homes, Mattie is riding a wave of emotions that have her insecure, terrified, and tentatively joyful. Mattie’s veterinarian boyfriend Cole Walker has his own challenges as their relationship hits a massive speedbump caused by his eldest teenage daughter, who sees her former friend Mattie now as a rival for her father’s affections. Navigating teenaged angst, a possible polygamist church, and an entirely new family will have Mattie more than ever relying on her clever and unwavering loyal canine partner for emotional and physical support.
This sixth in the series rewards readers by bringing a sense of conclusion to Mattie’s struggle to find answers about her past of how she, her brother, and her mother were so violently taken decades ago. Her traumatic childhood is what led to form such a strong bond with Robo, who has proved to be a better partner than she ever could have imagined. Far more challenging for Mattie will be resolving her friendship with Cole’s daughters, which has become such an integral part of her life. Having previously kept herself at a distance from others out of a sense of self-preservation, loving Robo has opened up the world and reignited her ability to trust. Of course, Mattie’s lazy former police partner continues to be as unhelpful and lunky as before, which means that she will have to rely more than ever on her K-9 for backup. Mattie’s growth as a confident deputy and skilled investigator has been as compelling to follow as her exploration of personal relationships, which continue to be tentative but assured. Dog lovers, mystery fans, and readers who appreciate a thrilling police procedural will enjoy this action-packed, emotionally moving series.
Bending the Paw: A Paw Enforcement Novel by Diane Kelly
Review by Cynthia Chow
Valentine’s Day is a true day of romance for Forth Worth Police Officer Megan Luz. She has just accepted the proposal from her firefighter boyfriend Seth, and they and their canine companions are formally forming a new family. The celebration with Megan’s family is cut short when she is called to the scene of the crime of what is obviously a Valentine’s Day Massacre. At the home of Shelby and Greg Olsen there is a missing husband, a body’s worth of blood, and their French Bulldog as the only witness. With no corpse on the premises and a lack of evidence on site, it’s up to Megan and her very capable K-9 partner Brigit to track down clues that will lead them to the fate of the missing theater manager.
As Megan and her investigating Detective mentor follow the path of the film buff who was apparently beloved by all, Megan is also made aware of a possible scam artist taking advantage of seniors victimized by a recent storm. Megan has more than surpassed her former chauvinistic partner, the same one she tasered and ultimately led to becoming partner with the much more intelligent Brigit. Chapters usually narrated by both Megan and Brigit also include ones by The Slasher, the knife-wielding criminal hiding his identity as he attempts to stay one step ahead of them. Lightening up the novel are Megan’s efforts to find a wedding dress, along with her job-related friendly youth outreach to Brigit’s adoring fans. Brigit’s narrations are always highlights, with the standout being a playdate with Seth’s Blast and their cooperative mission to break through childproof-but-not-dogproof treat cabinets.
This ninth in the series continues to balance fascinating police procedural investigations with the delightful relationship between Megan and Brigit. Seth and Blast bring a new dynamic to their family, but the ladies have become an unbeatable team despite their occasional communication mishap. Megan really needs to learn to speak dog better. Megan’s lifelong devotion to reading mysteries leads to her discovery of the biggest clue to help crack the case, and crafty readers will not be far behind. Shifting narrations and focusing on different cases keeps the pace lively and spurs the action forward. The novels by this prolific author always have her trademark humor, romance, and thrilling action, but this series excels with the realistic and heartwarming bond between Megan and Brigit. The Valentine’s Day setting highlights the romantic relationships between the human characters, some more successful than not. The next appearance by Megan, Brigit, and the upcoming wedding – one which must have a Canine Wedding Party – can’t come soon enough.
To enter to win a copy of both K-9 mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “k-9,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 28, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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