What could go wrong?
It’s career day at the Cleveland, Ohio, all-girls’ school St. Catherine’s, and Jazz Ramsey—the school’s admin assistant and avocational cadaver-dog trainer—has been volunteered by her boss to demonstrate how cadaver dogs work. Jazz borrows Gus, a friend’s trained dog, then hides the bait (a human tooth and a metacarpal bone) on the school’s unused fourth floor.
After the girls make their way up the stairs to the space, she gives Gus the command to find. Puzzled when Gus alerts to an area she knows she didn’t bait, Jazz investigates, nervous about what she might find.
“Not a squirrel. Not a raccoon. Not a dead rat. Gus knew better than to signal on an animal. Gus had been trained to detect only one scent. Human death.”
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Tucked into a space behind the door Gus is sitting resolutely in front of is a skeleton dressed in clothes Jazz recognizes as belonging to a former teacher. A contentious woman, the teacher hadn’t been much missed when she had unexpectedly quit her job and left town three years earlier.
Cadaver dogs—more formally known as human remains detection (HRD) dogs—fulfill a specialized niche: They help find the dead (sometimes the long dead) and in doing so, contribute to a family’s peace of mind or the law’s pursuit of justice. Logan includes interesting details about HRD training and working methods as part of the story.
In her first book of the series, The Scent of Murder, Jazz and her dog find the body of a former St. Catherine’s student. Here, in her second, the victim also has a connection with the school. Like Cabot Cove, Maine, the fictional setting of the long-running television series Murder, She Wrote, St. Catherine’s seems to on track to becoming a nexus of nefarious doings! Since they’re fictional and we don’t have to feel guilty about finding the doings interesting, that’s a good thing for the reader.