Review by Booklist Review
Are you planning on concealing your stash from the sniffer dogs by dousing it with ammonia? Or kerosene? Or disinfectant? Won't work. Dogs' noses can do what ours can't: separate the strands of an odor bouquet, isolate the drug smell, and go straight to the dope. This is some of the info we learn about former DEA sniffer Joe, one of the leads in Parker's stunning novel. Joe's good--he can find "a slice of soap hidden in a cinnamon gum wrapper"--and, thankfully, unlike too many canine characters, he's not a person in a dog suit and doesn't imagine he's a WWI flying ace. He shares the narrative with two colorful people. The first is Bettina Blazak, a Laguna, California, newspaper reporter working on a story about a Tijuana animal shelter. Her curiosity about Joe has her connecting with Dan Strickland, the latest incarnation of the Byronic hero: handsome, brooding, wounded, all dark skills and darker past moving toward an uncertain future. As their fates play out and the expertly managed tension mounts, one can almost hear a subterranean hum. Another fine effort from the talented Parker.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Much of this quirky standalone from bestseller Parker (A Thousand Steps) is told from the viewpoint of Joe, a dog trained by the DEA to sniff out drugs but later retired from the agency. Joe is now in Tijuana, Mexico, with "the Roman," who uses the animal's incredible nose to help one cartel rob another. In a heist gone wrong, Joe is shot, rescued by a Tijuana kid, and healed by a local vet. Joe is adopted by Bettina Blazak, an American reporter in Laguna Beach, Calif., who writes a story about the dog that goes viral, attracting all kinds of attention. Teddy Delgado, a San Diego boy who raised Joe as a puppy, wants him back, as does the Roman. The robbed cartel wants to steal him--and the DEA wants to use Bettina and Joe to attack the cartels. The tough, stubborn Bettina is determined to keep Joe, though bargaining with a Mexican cartel seems like a fool's errand. Readers will delight in the highly anthropomorphized Joe, but some may find the marriage of "dog lit" and violent thriller to be a bit awkward. Fans of Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie mysteries will want to check this out. (Apr.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
At an animal shelter, journalist Bettina comes across a dog slated for extermination. She's not sure why, but she takes him. She bonds with him immediately, naming him Felix. But Felix had a different name in a former, shadier life. It was Joe then. The story of Joe's past unfolds: early years with a boy, Teddy, who loves him still; training and working as a sniffer dog for the DEA; then his acquisition by Dan, owner of a self-defense school, who hires him out to a Mexican drug cartel in Tijuana seeking to wrest control from another cartel. Joe was shot in a drug heist gone bad, but a veterinarian saved him. Bettina found him in the vet's clinic. When Bettina writes about Felix's rescue online, the cartel that lost money (a million and a half in cash, five kilos of fentanyl, uncut) learns he's still alive. They take vengeance very seriously. Readers see the story unfold from the perspective of Joe as well as Bettina's, Teddy's, and Dan's viewpoints. Readers will love Joe; he's a great character. The story ends in violence, but good things happen too. VERDICT For lovers of quality crime fiction; Parker (Then She Vanished) never disappoints.--David Keymer
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