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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gun Shy

****½ Gun Shy by Donna Ball. Mystery.

This is the third in the Raine Stockton dog mystery series. Raine Stockton is a dog trainer and works search and rescue. In Gun Shy, she's called in to help with a dog who's been trapped in a cabin while his owner's lying dead behind a closed door.

The dog is a service dog, and the scene is very peculiar. The woman is dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, but where are her car, her luggage, her identification, food, etc.?

Raine is a little more on the periphery of this case--that is, she's not officially involved, but between her uncle the sheriff, and her sort-of-ex-husband Buck, his deputy, she stays informed. And with a little help from her friends, she figures out the clues the traumatized dog is hiding.

Gun Shy is an appropriate title for this book, as it describes not only the dog but Raine's relationship with Buck. There are more developments in her personal life, not what I'd expected, but not out of thin air, either.

This is a solid, enjoyable mystery series with interesting characters and clever and suspenseful mysteries. Although I'm not a huge dog person, I found the details about the dogs' training both interesting in its own right and applicable to human nature as well. I also appreciate that the characters and the relationships between them are not static; that they grow and change with time. Both those things (the dog details and the changing characters) raise the series above the clever puzzle level and make it a keeper for me.

I'm keeping an eye out for Cold Kill, the next book in this series. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Raine and her dogs and seeing where Ms. Ball takes them.

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