Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars
Diamonds are no one’s best friend when the jewels in question are smuggled conflict gems. Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk, have undertaken many search-and-rescue missions, but this case has an unusual twist. A Philadelphia syndicate is importing diamonds from war-torn African nations and selling them with fake certificates to Stateside dealers. Agent Finn Pierce of the Organized Crime Program is embedded with the syndicate, but being caught with a wire or tracking device would mean instant execution. If Meg, her partner Brian Foster, and their dogs can track Pierce to a deal location, they can break the smuggling chain while maintaining Pierce’s cover.
With the syndicate monitoring every move, it’s a risky operation with more players than Meg and Brian first assumed—on both sides of the law. And when one of their own gets caught in the line of fire, the team embarks on a desperate rescue mission, knowing that mere seconds are all that separate life and death . . .
Yes, I do love this series and thrilled to snag Book 6, Under Pressure. Each novel is unique but getting into the storyline with Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk, always brings a smile to my face as I get to greet an impressive, independent old friend once again and live vicariously the choreographed work between handler and K9. The support characters, including her sister Cara, are all smart, young professionals.
In this well-plotted narrative, Meg and Hawk as well as their handler partner Brian and his K9 are asked to work outside their usual Search and Rescue team when they are requested to work a cross-division collaboration involving a Philadelphia syndicate. They’ve implanted an agent into the mob, but are having problems with logistics and timing without blowing his cover. They are hoping the dogs will be able to track the players responsible for the buys of conflict diamonds hitting the local market. (Each of the chapters provide a lesson in diamond jargon—fascinating tidbits of info.)
I love how the authors strike a perfect balance between the lives of the main characters and their service animals with that of the current operation. Their lives become immersive, real.
The operation is not wholly successful at first—trial and error. Timing is key. But Meg is made and she is attacked shortly thereafter. Maybe there is something more than the mob here and they’ll have to track the source. Then an unofficial member of their team goes missing.
The novel never flags, slows down, no sags in the middle. There are action packed scenes, the dogs are in the thick of it, and the tension ramps up as further discoveries are made and pieces come together.
The conclusion, gritty and gripping, is satisfying. There is more than one theme here, the bond between the handler and their canine, the amazing intelligence of a service K9, and that a family can be comprised not just of blood relatives but those closely bonded by circumstance. The novel is an easy one to fly through—you don’t want to put it down!
I’ve read Storm Rising (Book 3), No Man’s Land (Book 4), and most recently Leave No Trace (Book 5), and loved them all. Really, you can begin with Book 6, as this is a series you don’t have to start at the beginning, each can function as a standalone. I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author(s) and Kensington Books (thank you!) through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order—go ahead and get on the list!
Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
Print Length: 267 pages
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Authors: Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Jen is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Ann lives in central Texas
with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work. You can follow the latest news on the FBI K-9 Mysteries at saradriscollauthor.com.
©2021 V Williams