Saturday, 4 May 2013

Audiobook Review: SUSPECT by Robert Crais


Title: Suspect
Author: Robert Crais
Narrator: MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Read: April 27 - May 3, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

The explosive new masterpiece of suspense from the #1 New York Times' bestselling author.

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty...until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott's.

They are each other's last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and the journey will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

My thoughts: 

Crais has been on my list of favourite authors for years, and his latest novel Suspect once again firmly cemented his place there – despite initial misgivings about a canine protagonist, which I am happy to say turned out to be totally unfounded.

LAPD officer Scott James is still recovering from an unexpected night-time shooting which left him severely wounded and killed his partner Stephanie – a death he still blames himself for, reliving her agonised cries for help every night in his dreams. Not trusting himself with another human partner, he joins the K9 team in the hope of a new career which might help him overcome the effects of PTSD and the anger he still carries inside him.

Maggie, a military trained German shepherd faces similar obstacles to Scott – after her handler Pete lost his life in an explosion in Afghanistan and she was shot by a sniper, she is afraid of crowds and loud noises and has been declared unfit for duty. Working with Maggie provides Scott with a way to face his own fears and pain, and soon the two are an inseparable pair. But Scott cannot rest until Stephanie’s killer is found, and when a new pair of detectives are entrusted with the case he sees a perfect opening to conduct some investigations of his own – this time with the help of his canine partner.

I have long since enjoyed Crais’ Elvis Cole books and was very interested to see what his new protagonist would have to offer – and was not disappointed! Not only is Scott an interesting character with a turbulent past and his own demons to conquer, but his canine partner provides a whole new perspective to what proved to be a solid police procedural with a well constructed plot and plenty of suspense. I loved the way Crais gives Maggie a voice, without coming across as corny, or personifying his canine protagonist too much, which is often the case with other animal stories. Instead, Crais offers wonderful insights into dog psychology and police dog training, which I found thoroughly fascinating (and I normally wouldn’t call myself a dog person – which would no doubt inspire some contempt from Crais’ “dog-man” character Dominick Leland). I also found the way in which the relationship between a man and his dog slowly develops – or, as Maggie sees it, they become “pack” – very touching and believable.

Scott James is a very different character from Elvis Cole – perhaps I missed Elvis’ wry sense of humour a little bit, but had no time to dwell on it, since the story soon drew me in and kept me interested. The story itself is pure police procedural, driven by Scott’s strong emotions connected to the shooting and very much dependent on his need to redeem himself from the survivor’s guilt he still carries. If I had to offer one criticism, it would be that the mystery was a bit slow to develop, and when it finally did the ending came very abruptly, as if the author was trying to wrap it all up in a neat bundle too soon – it could have done with a bit more action and twists at the end to give answers to some outstanding questions and prolong the suspense.

I had the audio version of the book and must also give credit to MacLeod Andrews for delivering a wonderful narration and lending each character their own unique personality.

All in all, Suspect will appeal to dog lovers and readers of police procedurals alike, and should appease Robert Crais fans who are sceptical of a protagonist other than Elvis Cole or Joe Pike. I am very interested to see if we will see Maggie and Scott James in future novels.

I read this novel as part of my 2013 Audiobook Challenge.

1 comment:

  1. I finished reading it last night and loved Scott and Maggie :)