4 stars out of 5
One of the joys of being part of the NetGalley book review community is finding great new-to-me authors. When it turns out to be the writer of a series, my happiness grows exponentially. Such is the case here; this is the third in the author's "Timber Creek K-9 Mystery" series. I did not read the first two, but I didn't need to in order to enjoy this one; the backstory tidbits included here are quite sufficient to bring me up to speed.
For the most part, I came to like Mattie Cobb, a deputy in Timber Creek and the star of the show. She comes from an abused childhood and has some baggage that at times gets in the way of her investigative skills, but in another way it helps her identify with the victims and their families. That comes into play at the start of the story, when a junior high student goes missing and in short order is found dead on a hill behind the high school.
There's another character I loved even more than Mattie, though - her K-9 partner Robo. He's a real sweetheart, and his tracking ability makes him invaluable in situations like this. But wait, there's more: Still another totally lovable character is a real gem - Cole Walker, the local veterinarian who is, off-and-on, Mattie's boyfriend. He's got two daughters who love Mattie (and vice versa), but also an ex-wife for whom Mattie is sure is still carrying a torch.
Their relationship is put to the test when, shortly after the first young girl is found and determined to have been murdered, Cole's younger daughter goes missing. From that point on, the race is on to find her - hopefully still alive - as well as identify and bring the killer to justice. Needless to say, Robo gets a good workout, performing like the trooper he is.
In short, this is a solid murder mystery with interesting characters that will leave you satisfied and your fingernails intact. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. It's a sure bet I'll be watching for the next installment.
Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books, August 2017); 320 pp.