Though they’re set in places that couldn’t be more different— Colorado’s high country and urban New Jersey— Margaret Mizushima’s “Timber Creek K-9” and David Rosenfelt’s “Andy Carpenter” mystery series have much in common. Both reveal their authors’ deep love and appreciation for dogs, both set up and solve interesting puzzles, and both are cracking good reads.
In Hunting Hour, the third and most recent in her series featuring Deputy Maddie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo, Mizushima runs parallel plotlines. One involves the mysterious death of a teenage girl and the abduction of second child, local vet Cole Walker’s eight-yearold daughter. The other concerns Cobb’s ongoing effort to come to terms with demons from her childhood. The information Mizushima deftly weaves in on the training and behavior of working dogs— dogs in general, actually, since several figure in the story—rings true, as do her descriptions of a rural vet’s daily life and work. Mizushima, who helps her veterinarian husband with his clinic, has long had a ringside seat on that world.
Though murders and other assorted mayhem also feature in David Rosenfelt’s series, his touch is somewhat lighter. Andy Carpenter, a defense attorney who actively avoids taking cases, is both self-deprecating and candid about his many foibles. He’s also a man who will leap into almost any situation that involves the welfare of a dog, as he’s demonstrated across the span of the series, which, with the release of Collared, now numbers sixteen. This time, the focus is on the mysterious reappearance of a dog that had been kidnapped, along with a child, more than two years earlier; the dog comes back, the child remains missing. Add the hijacking of a hightech data operation, a couple of mob bosses, a prison escape and a case against Andy’s client that looks like a slam-dunk victory for the prosecution and all the elements are in place for an engrossing puzzle, one that’s satisfyingly solved by the last page.