There are a few authors who write wonderful mysteries with something that makes them extra-fun to read — that extra-something is dogs. There is the “Chet and Bernie” series by Spencer Quinn and David Rosenfelt’s wonderful “Andy Carpenter” mysteries. Now we can add Jeffrey B. Burton’s new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, that begins with “The Finders.”
The main character is a dog trainer, Mace Reid, who lives in the southern Chicago suburbs with his multiple dogs. He trains them as cadaver dogs, dogs who can find the remains of people. But before we meet Reid, we briefly make the acquaintance of a woman driving through Illinois who makes an unfortunate detour at a rest stop and decides to walk the nature trail around back. Not a good choice. We also meet a pair of cops who answer a call about a car running inside a closed garage. Inside the garage is a puppy who appears dead, and in the kitchen is a dead man.
When we finally meet Reid, who is the first person narrator for much of the book, he’s at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) because his friend, the director, has a puppy for him to train. This puppy, whom he named Elvira – or Vira for short – becomes another main character. In fact, we become so taken with Vira, that we definitely care more about her well-being than Reid’s. Vira is an amazing dog, and it’s because of her special talents that Reid lives to narrate the story.
The mystery is multi-layered. There’s the murder mystery about who the serial killer is, but there’s also the mystery about Vira. What are her unique abilities? Is she supernatural? Psychic? A superhero?
Reid is a very likable character. His narrative shows him as a modest, self-deprecating kind of guy and the writing is often humorous. There are twists aplenty and some nail-biting action. It’s a lovely start to this series, and we will definitely want to continue reading about
Reid Vira to make sure her talents are properly appreciated and utilized.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s edition provided by Minotaur Books, the publisher, for review purposes.