Raine Stockton is a dog trainer and she has a history of being involved in Search and Rescue. She and her dog Cassidy, were successful more times than not when searching for victims. In Raine’s mind and heart, there will never be another dog like Cassidy. Cassidy excelled at agility training, Search and Rescue and being a therapy dog. When Cassidy passes away, Raine cannot get over the loss. Although she now owns another golden retriever, Cisco, an offspring of Cassidy, Raine does not have the interest or the heart to do any of that anymore. And Cisco is too young and to puppyish to be any good.
But when Raine gets a phone call in the middle of the night and finds out that a mother and daughter are missing and could be out in the cold in the dark woods, she agrees to bring Cisco and search for them. When it has been determined that mother and daughter have been kidnapped, the situation becomes even more dangerous. Although Cisco is anxious to please Raine, the search does not end well. The kidnapper is found dead at the bottom of a ravine, and although the mother is found, there is no sign of the child. Time is running out before the search and rescue mission becomes a recovery mission.
The characters are very well rounded, realistic and three dimensional. Raine is someone who wants the world to think she is strong and fearless but in reality she has a soft side. She will do whatever it takes to protect her dogs and to help rescue those in danger. But she is not so certain of things when it comes to her estranged husband, Buck, who works for the sheriff’s department. And when it comes to getting over Cassidy’s death, she is struggling a lot. Buck is likable and at times I wanted to see the two of them get back together. Then there’s Maude, who is a no-nonsense type of person who tells it like it is. And Sonny is a lawyer and dog communicator that plays an important part in solving the mystery. The character that really stole the show for me was Cisco. He is full of puppy exuberance and mischief but he wants desperately to please Raine and win her love. I could have read all day about his antics and been very happy doing it.
I love reading Search and Rescue fiction and I think this is one of the best ones that I have read. The author is very talented in bringing the scenes to life and I could picture in my mind the rough terrain and the dangers that awaited Raine and Cisco. The author is also very talented in bringing out the emotions of the reader. There were times when I laughed out loud at something that Cisco did and then there were times when I had tears in my eyes. The suspense and mystery were carried on throughout the whole book and there were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing as to the killer’s identity.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. If you enjoy Search and Rescue, then this book is a must read. I read this book many years ago and I am so glad that I reread it. I think I enjoyed it even more the second time. And the fact that there are many more books in the series makes it even better.