By: Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 2021
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Date: September 18, 2021
Author Margaret Mizushima keeps the action and suspense coming in book 7 of her popular Timber Creek K-9 mystery series, Striking Range.
As the story opens, Deputy Mattie Cobb is sitting in her car in the parking lot of a Colorado state prison along with her K-9 partner, Robo. She's waiting for the arrival of Detective Jim Hauck, who will help her question John Cobb - the man who tried to kill her (see Burning Ridge). It's possible that Cobb may also have information on Mattie's biological father. It's going to be a hard interview, but one Mattie must do. Unfortunately, Mattie never gets the chance to talk with John Cobb because while she and Detective Hauck wait for their meeting, the prison goes on lockdown.
The cause of the lockdown is soon revealed - John Cobb has been found dead in his cell. Disappointed beyond measure by the unexpected turn of events, Mattie nonetheless goes into "detective mode" along with her temporary partner. They get permission to go into Cobb's cell and while promising not to touch the body, they closely examine the evidence. The pair suspect murder, rather than an overdose, but they agree that the coroner will have to confirm. When Mattie turns her attention to Cobb's cell, she discovers the book "Trails in Timber Creek County." Why would a cold-blooded killer, in prison, have a book on hiking trails? And why was the page with the trail for Redstone Ridge, the place where John Cobb had killed her brother and tried to kill her, dog-eared and with different spots on the map marked with Xs? What was going on?
While Mattie and Hauck wait for the coroner's report, they respond to a hunter's discovery of a young woman's body. That discover soon leads to other discoveries that may, or may not, tie into Mattie's abduction as well as another missing woman's case. And while Cole Walker, the veterinarian who usually works with Mattie has been sidelined with a litter of puppies, he's soon drawn into the mystery too. Indeed, it'll take all of Robo's K-9 talents, and Mattie's clever deduction skills, to tie it all together.
Striking Range is the first of the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series that I've read and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I had no trouble catching up with the characters, and instantly fell in love with Robo (such an awesome dog!) The mystery was tangled (in a good way!) and kept me guessing as to what was really happening, who the "baddies" were, and what the outcome would be. There was a particularly notable showdown between Mattie and Robo with a suspect that was tense and showed the author's understanding of the training and handling of a K-9 partner. Now it's time to go back and read the other books in the series. Enjoy!
Quill says: Get ready for suspense and page-turning action in the latest offering in the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series, Striking Range.