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 killer. She then reacts aggressively when encountering the guilty party, a person often unsuspected before Vira’s identification.
This is why Mace’s girlfriend and police detective, Kippy Gimm, tries to get Mace and Vira to accompany her to the scene of homicides. While they doubt an assertion of Vira’s skill won’t hold up in court, it provides enough incentive for the cops to take a closer look at the person pointed out by Vira.
In this installment (3rd in the series), Chicago FBI Special Agent Len Squires has called upon Mace and Vira to help check the grounds of the Glencoe, Illinois estate of Kenneth and Calley Druckman. Druckman, a billionaire financier (who has quite a few characteristics in common with real-life Chicago billionaire Kenneth Griffin), reported that his wife and 5-year-old daughter Eleanor (“Elle”) were abducted after a break-in by three masked males the night before. We learn right away that Calley is found dead in the woods behind Druckman’s estate, and Vira knows who did it.
For the rest of the book, the author gradually reveals the motivation behind the killing and kidnapping, and we follow Mace and Kippy as they try to find Elle and also bring the perpetrators to justice.
The tension rises as the race between good and evil comes to a head and Elle’s fate is truly on the line, as well as those of Mace and Kippy.
Evaluation: This gritty thriller will appeal to those who love good crime stories, especially those set in the Chicago area.
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2022