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AGAINST THE PAW
by Diane Kelly
St Martin's Paperbacks, May 2016
352 pages
$7.99
ISBN: 1250094801


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Megan Luz is an Irish/Mexican/American K-9 Police Officer in Fort Worth who is working her heart out to earn a promotion to Detective. With her German Shepherd canine, Brigit, she demonstrates constant superior investigative skills at least vastly superior to the efforts of her department rival, Officer Derek Mackey, who is both macho and sexist. Somehow these two officers seem to be in a constant battle to be first on the scene and to take charge/credit for whatever can be accomplished. The advantage in speed is often Officer Mackey's but the advantage in effectiveness is usually Megan's, not least because of the excellent training she and Brigit have received and the relationship they have developed.

There have been a series of complaints about intruders in upscale areas and it is probable that there is a very active Peeping Tom on the prowl. Each chapter of the novel has a subheading indicating whose thoughts and narration we are being given and it is interesting to see the very different perspectives held by Megan and Brigit, obviously caused by their very different physical abilities. Although a Peeping Tom is not a very dangerous criminal, at least until he escalates his activities to actual contact with his victims, there is another threat in the movements of an armed man who has invaded homes in the Austin area in order to demand debit cards from women home alone. He has not only threatened these women and stolen from them, but he has also injured some and perhaps caused the death of one. Recently he has been reported to be moving North into the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Peeping might be his way of casing the homes of likely targets.

All too frequently, as Megan and Officer Mackey race each other to scenes of intrusion, they are met by an odd assortment of Neighborhood Watch Team members who have a regular nightly patrol schedule and assignments. This group is led by a gun-toting braggart who tramples crime scenes in his own efforts to outshine the police investigators. He and some of the Neighborhood Watch Team members get added to Megan's list of possible suspects as she combs the internet and interviews neighbors and families trying to narrow down the possibilities.

This novel is totally a niche filler. Fourth in a series that looks like it will continue indefinitely, it is sturdily enough based and appeals to a firm enough set of readers that like the three earlier books, it should enjoy a successful run.

I find the attempts at humor off-putting. They strike me as silly, too-often crude, way overused, and not funny. All that means is that I am not really part of the fan base this series is written for. So, while it's not my cup of tea, it looks like author Diane Kelly has found a winning formula and is using it well.

Diana Borse is retired from teaching English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and savoring the chance to read as much as she always wanted to.

Reviewed by Diana Borse, June 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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