I have to admit, I chose this book because of the title and the cover. I thought it might be an adventure that had to do with the sea. It wasn’t. Nonetheless, it was an excellent adventure story, full of suspense and intrigue. The main characters are the Taylor family, and the first member we meet is Jamie. Divorced from an abusive husband, she is a well-respected loans officer at a bank in Aspen Falls, Colorado, but her passion is for search and rescue, a passion which stems from the kidnapping and murder of her mother ten years earlier. Jamie has a superb reputation among law enforcement officials and 3 dogs: Gretchen, a golden retriever who sniffs out the location of dead bodies, Socrates (Socks for short), who tracks lost hikers, and McKenzie, a fluffy white bichon who visits hospitals, hospices, and homebound people. When we meet Jamie, she and Gretchen are searching a field for a lady killed by her husband. Later, we’re introduced to Jamie’s sister, Jax (short for Jacqueline) who is the medical examiner for the county, and is married to an abusive husband who spends her money faster than she can make it on the assumption that Jamie will continually bail them out. Their father, Bryce, a former security specialist, has been on the road for the past ten years tracking his wife’s killer and is closing in. The trail has led back to Aspen Falls. Jamie and Jax have two best friends, Ellen Grimes who teaches third grade, and Ciara Burke, a tall, gorgeous, model.
When Jamie is called out for a search one Saturday morning, she meets FBI Agent Nick Grant, a determined and dedicated officer who has been trying to discover the whereabouts of 13 bodies killed and buried by Leopold Bonzer, serial killer. Grant’s goal? Give the families of the victims closure. He, too, is widely-respected in law enforcement circles, and with Bonzer’s death, he is desperately searching for the burial ground based on the only clue Bonzer left behind: an old black and white photo of a field. When he realizes that there’s only one dog and the handler is female, his disgust is obvious. He doesn’t want to waste his time and resources training an incompetent woman! (Hah! He gets to eat his words.)
The action flips around a bit before bringing all the characters together and the tension is heightened by the intermittent glimpses of a second killer, a cold and calculating stalker who is observing the unearthing of almost two dozen bodies, and planning his own ultimate destruction of human life. We see that various women in the story are vulnerable, but this killer remains unnamed as we try to unmask him from the various possible suspects in the story. Clues to his identity are dropped in, but not enough to have him revealed before the author wants it known. Many more bodies are found before Nick and Bryce team up to track him down, prevent disaster, and rescue his last two would-be victims.
I’m never comfortable with psychotic killers who stalk the vulnerable — women, older people, the handicapped — and this killer, the second one, seems stranger than most. Jamie’s ex turns up to add diversion to the plot, and Agent Nick is attracted to her despite his manic fear of dogs. The author clearly knows her stuff when it comes to S & R dogs and MEs but doesn’t throw in so much technical stuff that it’s a turn-off. This was a real page-turner — I read it in one day — and, despite being a bit outside my comfort level, I could not put it down. It is a well told story that kept me hanging in right to the very end. I read the Kindle edition from Amazon. * * * * *
To learn more about Ms. Brantley and her books, visit her website at pegbrantley.com.