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HomeCrime NovelThe Rescue by T. Jefferson Parker

The Rescue by T. Jefferson Parker

The Rescue is a gripping thriller that explores the strength of the human-animal bond and how far we will go to protect what we love by three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker. Read on for Doreen Sheridan’s review!

Joe is a very good dog. Always eager to please the humans on his team, he regularly outperforms every other dog when it comes to sniffing out contraband items, despite not even coming close to fitting the image of the usual working canine:

[H]e looks more like a common street dog than a cash-and-drug-whiffing savant. Joe is a trim fifty-five pounds, short haired, long legged, and saber tailed, with rust ovals on a cream background. He is terrier-like and dainty footed, but his gull wing ears protrude from what could well be a Labrador retriever’s solid head. To these heavily armed men, accustomed to the burly German shepherd dogs, Malinois, and Rottweilers favored by the DEA and Federales–and the pit bulls adored by narcotraficantes–Joe looks amusing and almost cute.

Joe adores his human partner, who goes by the name The Roman when they’re working together with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. So far, they’ve been extremely successful at sniffing out and stealing hundreds of thousands in cash and drugs from the rival Sinaloa Cartel. But when a furniture store bust is interrupted by vengeful Sinaloans, Joe is shot and separated from The Roman, who must hightail it back north across the United States border in order to evade capture himself.

Bettina Blazak is an intrepid reporter for the Coastal Eddy, a newspaper out of Laguna Beach, California. When she decides to do a human interest story about a heroic veterinarian and his latest rescue operation just south of the border with Mexico, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with a recovering Joe. She renames him Felix and takes him home with her, publishing their story in print and online, with accompanying video. Little does she know that this innocent act will put her in the crosshairs of the cartels herself, as the rival gangs work either to get Joe back or to eliminate him entirely from the equation.

Fortunately for Joe, he could have no fiercer protector than his new owner:

Bettina Blazak–always up for a fight when told what she can and cannot do–feels a familiar spark beginning inside her. She’s had that spark ever since she can remember. She likes it. Considers it a genetic plus, a Polish-Irish thing. And it can become a flame in the blink of an eye. Then a fire. The fire that made her fight her brothers when they turned on her, the fire that forced her to outshoot everybody on the trap range at the Olympic team tryouts, the fire that sends her down Coast Highway on her road bike at forty miles an hour, that makes her paddle hard to drop in on a hollow five-foot wave at Brooks Street beach in Laguna.

When people start coming around with inquiries as to Felix’s past life and future availability, Bettina finds herself becoming increasingly possessive of the sweet dog, regardless of whether the requests seem legitimate or otherwise. Things only really start getting complicated, though, when she finds herself falling for one of the people claiming to be Felix’s rightful owner. Will she be able to sort out everyone’s motives, and protect herself and her beloved dog, as forces with greater firepower than she could ever dream of begin to close in on them?

The chapters from Joe’s viewpoint were by far the best part of this canine-centric book. Dog lovers – and anyone who enjoys reading about K9 units – will love the insight into how dogs tick and how they’re trained to assist law enforcement. The chapters of Joe performing his duties, coupled with his good-hearted nature, were engrossing and informative.

The interpersonal relationships otherwise fell a little flat for me. I did, however, very much enjoy the chapters with Teddy, another claimant to Felix’s ownership, and Wade. I’m glad that the right calls were made at the end, no matter how reluctantly. Joe absolutely deserves the best, no matter what wringers the humans in his life have to go through to ensure that that happens.

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