Mason “Mace” Reid, in his late twenties, specializes in training and guiding dogs for human remains detection. These “cadaver dogs,” as Mace explains, can find human remains in the ruins of an earthquake or a fire or a building collapse as well as inside a shallow grave. But one of Mace’s five dogs, a golden retriever named Vira, has an additional ability. When Vira encounters a dead body at a crime scene, she also picks up the scents left behind by the killers. She then reacts aggressively when encountering the guilty party, a person often unknown before Vira’s identification.
This is why Mace’s police friend, Kippy Gimm, tries to get Mace and Vira to accompany her and her partner, Dave Wabiszewski (“Wabs”), to homicide investigations. While they suspect Vira’s skill won’t hold up in court, it provides enough information for the cops to go after whoever Vira has pointed out.
When Vira “fingered” some high-up figures in the Chicago power establishment in a recent string of gruesome murders, the team of Mace, Kippy and Wabs knew they faced a significant challenge. Who were they to go up against “The Keepers”?
“The Keepers” was the name given by (fictional) Mayor Carter Weeks of Chicago to the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, mobsters, and their cronies in Chicago that “kept the populace of the Windy City down” and subservient. Mayor Weeks had run on a platform of reform, to root out the Keepers and bring integrity and accountability back to the city. Alas, he had an uphill job.
Mace, Kippy and Wabs had to find someone to trust in “the Corruption Capital of America” to help bring the guilty to justice. They had to do it quickly and quietly, because these truly bad people were determined that no one prevent them from carrying out their unsavory agendas.
The tension becomes almost unbearable as the race between good and evil comes to a head and the story gets well and truly scary.
Evaluation: My husband, who spent most of his life in Chicago, appreciated all the references to places in the city, which he deemed quite accurate (unlike in one of his favorite shows, Chicago P.D.). And of course he enjoyed watching when I read the book (after he did) and I had to stop and scream at several junctures. This gritty thriller will appeal to those who love good crime stories, especially those full of facts and trivia about the art of forensics.
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2021