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Book Review - "Silent Creed" by Alex Kava

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780399170775_p0_v3_s192x300Silent Creed by Alex Kava combines a riveting mystery, a backstory of military dog handlers, and rescue dogs.  Anyone who loves canines and wants them highlighted in a storyline should read these novels.  With a wonderful supporting cast of “human beings” these stories are informative, relevant, and suspenseful.

Ryder Creed is a dog handler who trains a variety of dogs to help out in tragic situations, either to find cadavers or rescue people.  The author is able to capture the feel of rescue operations, including the urgency, danger, and how Mother Nature   plays a role.  The other dog handler, Jason, is an intern of sorts, using Ryder as his apprentice.  Both these characters are former military and Kava delves into their experiences while fighting the War on Terror.  She highlights how dogs can be used to support those heroes who sometimes have suicidal thoughts.  A quote from the books nails the feelings, “You take a dog in, you earn his trust, his unconditional love… I understood you’d be around to take care of him (Scout, the black lab puppy.)”

With each story Kava tries to highlight different types of canines.  Ryder works closely with his rescue dog Bolo, a sturdy Rhodesian ridgeback because this breed could withstand heat and the damp cold, never alarmed by the weather conditions.  Grace, the featured character of the last book, a Jack Russell Terrier, does not help in this rescue, being too small.  However, she was brought into the story mid-way as an emotional support for Ryder.  There was also a shout out to Scout, a black lab puppy.

Kava stated to blackfive.net, “He was named after my dog who I lost last year.  He has a lot of the characteristics of my Scout. I even dedicated the first book in the series to him. The main characters have to be the dogs.  I’m a dog lover. I’ve surrounded myself with dogs my entire life, some of which have been rescues. I’ve had as many as six in my pack at one time. Each and every one of them has been a special member of my family.”

In this book a devastating mudslide in North Carolina has Ryder and his dogs attempting to find survivors.  As the search and rescue intensifies it becomes evident that there are secrets hidden under the mud and sludge.  Because some of the bodies found were killed not by Mother Nature, but by gunshots, FBI Agent, Maggie O’ Dell is assigned to investigate why people were being murdered at this top-secret government research facility.  It becomes apparent that someone is trying to control the investigation of the murders, which leads Ryder, Maggie, and the dogs on a perilous mission.

A word of warning, although there are some facets of the plot that are resolved, there is another that is a cliff hanger, as in a TV show where the viewer has to wait for the next installment.  This piece, the medical experiments about a deadly virus, is the main plot line for the next book, Reckless Creed.  The author did a lot of research including finding out “that there are dogs that can accurately detect cancer in patients.  In the next book Ryder will use those training methods of detection. I left a piece of the plot up in the air on purpose.  As a reader myself I enjoy books that have an element of ‘what will happen next.’”

Silent Creed has an intense storyline along with details about rescue operations, the difficulties faced by returning military personnel, and the importance of dogs in people’s lives.  Anyone who loves dogs should read these books.

Photo - Falcon Flying

Hires_150809-F-FK724-373cAn F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 9, 2015, to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to support Operation Inherent Resolve. This deployment coincides with Turkey's decision to host U.S. aircraft to conduct operations to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. The Falcon was one of six F-16s assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing and about 300 personnel and cargo to deploy from the base. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman

Photo - Over Afghanistan

Hires_150730-A-VO006-435cCH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters transport senior leaders from the Resolute Support mission and Afghan army to the Regional Military Training Center on Tactical Base Gamberi in Laghman province, Afghanistan, July 30, 2015. The helicopter crews are assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jarrod Morris

Book Review - "In the Dark Places" by Peter Robinson

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.   You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062240583_p0_v3_s192x300In The Dark Places by Peter Robinson is a police procedural featuring British Inspector Alan Banks.  An interesting side note is that in the UK and Canada the title is Abattoir Blues, based upon the song with the same name by the Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  Because of the author’s love of music he always has some kind of reference to bands, songs, or lyrics. 

The books open with an investigation of a stolen tractor, possibly insurance fraud.  Yet, the investigation takes a dark turn when two of the suspected thieves go missing and blood is found in an abandoned hanger.  After a truck careens off an icy road two bodies are found, one the driver and the other a missing person, chopped and bagged among the parcels of a meatpacking plant. The murder weapon of choice is a bolt gun as in “nuts and bolts.” 

Robinson commented to blackfive.net, “I remember telling my publisher I am starting the book with a stolen tractor.  They did not find the idea very exciting at all.  But of course it moves on to a story involving criminals and organized crime.  Most of the true rural crime involves equipment, but I took it a little farther and had profit and smuggling involved.  I also wanted to include some different facets of our culture so I discuss in detail the different types of bolt guns and ‘potholding.’  This is popular and dangerous because people go down these holes that are entries into underground cave systems that run under landscapes.”

As with most of his books a certain detective is highlighted and readers find out about the backstory. This novel can definitely be considered DS Winsome Jackman’s book.  How she sees and experiences events are emphasized.  She is athletic, English proper, very moralistic, tough, smart, and funny.  Winsome is shy, awkward, and tentative in establishing personal relationships until she meets an English war veteran, Terry Gilchrist, who fought in Afghanistan, receiving the Military Cross and an honorable discharge after being severely wounded. 

Robinson gave a heads up regarding his next books.  No Cure For Love is a book published only in Canada in 1995, and was just recently released in the UK. It will be released in the US early next year. Set in Los Angeles, it has a forward by Michael Connelly since it is a crime novel based on the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD.  This story has two detectives (neither Alan Banks) investigating threatening letters and phone calls of an English actress who plays an LA detective.  The author noted he decided not to update it and is not against the idea of possibly writing this as a series. The other book published next summer will have as the main characters Detectives Banks and Gerry Masterson.  The plot of When The Music’s Over involves the investigation of the rich and powerful that exploit the young.

In The Dark Places is an entertaining story about relationships, how there are consequences for someone’s actions, and how quickly a person can find they are underwater based upon their bad decisions.

Photo - Climbing Aboard

Hires_150727-M-SV584-100cU.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alexander Hoodwin climbs aboard the USS Essex from a rigid-hull inflatable boat in the Indian Ocean, July 27, 2015. Hoodwin is a radio operator with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Elements of the unit are conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility to support U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. 
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anna Albrecht 

Photo - Recovery Assisted Landing

Hires_150801-N-ZZ999-003cAn MH-60R Seahawk practices recovery-assisted landings during a team drill on the USS Lassen in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 1, 2015. The Lassen is patrolling in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51. 
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Jesse Mommaerts 

Photo - VBSS Security

Hires_150720-M-PA636-039cA U.S. Marine provides security for his team and Navy SEALs while conducting a joint visit, board, search and seizure exercise during a composite training exercise in the Atlantic Ocean, July 20, 2015. The Marines, assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and sailors assigned to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group are participating in the exercise to prepare for deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility this fall. 
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis 

Photo - Main Gun

Hires_150804-M-FZ867-803AAn M1A1 Abrams tank crew fires its 120-mm main gun during a live-fire gunnery at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 4, 2015. The tank crew is assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion. The live-fire exercise tests tank crews on their ability to work together on target accuracy. 
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw