A shared review with the CE.
In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. Amid debris and the buried cries for help, the most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp.
Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave and uncovers a vast network of abuse rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.
I really enjoy the relationship that the author of this series has created for her protagonist Meg and her K-9 Search and Rescue black lab, Hawk and while Meg has a human male in her life, she has a story to tell with her searches. In Book 3, Hurricane Cole has barreled down on Virginia Beach and there has been the usual number of persons refusing to leave, thinking they can weather the storm.
The setting is chaotic with the coastal town a shambles, too many buildings at waters edge, and the storm surge stories high. They are sent in to find persons stranded or hidden in debris and as luck would have it, her favorite firefighter/paramedic, Todd, is also being sent in to supplement the personnel already in place but over-extended. They do what they can, but in a matter of a few days the mission goes from search for life to recovery of bodies–difficult for a search and rescue animal.
It is when Meg and Todd are driving toward the largest navy base in the world that Todd spots a van, half-hidden in water, muck, mud, and ravaged bushes and trees. Apparently, there were survivors from the van–but where are they now? Hawk finds one girl, badly injured and left, however, it is obvious she didn’t get there on her own. Hawk continues the search until he finds a young woman and the team discovers the purpose of the van and the focus of the mission suddenly changes.
As always, there are teachable moments, which for me adds fascinating information regarding the terrain and training of these magnificent canines and their handlers. There are also descriptions of the Great Dismal Swamp, a huge retreat left natural with no lack of some serious wildlife, including alligators.
The dialogue is so natural, you can hear the teenager’s refusal dripping with contempt rather than trust anyone, especially an adult, but specifically men who have thus far only exploited and kept her captive. The human/dog connection, however, is palpable and becomes the necessary tool that Meg can use to reach her.
The K-9 stories always catch my eye. I read and reviewed No Man’s Land late last year (Sara Driscoll) and Exit Strategy (Jen J Danna) last month, the first of a new series. The author has a riveting writing style that hooks from the beginning and builds tension through the satisfying conclusion. The only quibble I had with this novel was that the dog wasn’t used through the climax. These stories, however, are fast-paced, well-plotted and atmospheric. Regardless of which pen name she uses, you can’t go wrong. 4.5 stars/5
I received this digital download through Amazon’s digital book loans with no expectation of a review. These are our honest opinions. Highly recommended!
What secrets does the aftermath of a hurricane hold? Sara Driscoll explores the saga of Meg Jennings and her partner Hawk. Entering the hardest hit areas of devastation they look for possible survivors. Entwined in the search are the reasons why some people do not evacuate as required by law enforcement. Some people stay behind to burglarize homes and businesses left unprotected during the evacuation.
A chance sighting of a stranded vehicle leads to a second expose of crime during the storm. Hawk and Meg assist a fire and rescue team member in exploring the vehicle. Evidence of some who were able to get out of the vehicle leads to a very interesting part of this novel.
Sara’s storytelling is always first-rate and shows the depth of her abilities in her craft. Attention to detail and explanation as to how and why some of the procedures are followed is woven into the narrative. After a few hours, the “rescue” efforts become “retrieval” and identification efforts.
The mental toll that this sort of effort requires is evident on both Meg and her K-9 partner Hawk. The reward of finding someone alive in those situations is energizing for both the handler and the dog. The depth of training and trust between the handler and the animal is mesmerizing! Sara handles it with authenticity and faithfulness.
As the story develops a different area of discovery ensues. From a simple search and rescue operation, we are thrust into a whole other world. I found this both enlightening and disturbing. Following Meg into the entire enterprise left me enlightened and angry. The world exposed was cruel and disgusting.
It is not the journey through life that is the sum and substance of our existence but rather the end result. Some people seem to feel that there will be no repercussions of a heinous life and go about their business amassing a fortune on the backs of the innocent. The author shows that those people need to be stopped because the resultant greed can lead to great suffering. 5 stars – CE Williams
Genre: Conspiracy Thrillers, Animal Fiction, Political Thrillers & Suspense
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
Print Length: 306 pages
Publication Date: August 17, 2019
Source: Publisher and Amazon Book Loans
Rosepoint Publishing: 4.75 stars of Five
The Author: [Sara Driscoll] A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.
With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.
Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019.
Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.
Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at email@example.com.
©2020 CE Williams – V Williams