James Rollins has delivered every time, with Robert Ludlum-like tales that spinout all over the globe, sending characters we come to care about into harms way to save the world. Now, he teams with Grant Blackwood to deliver the first-ever K9 spy partnership of Tucker Wayne and his Belgian shepherd, Kane. Sent by Sigma Force’s Painter Crowe on a mission to transport a scientist across the border of Russia, they find themselves up against a nefarious conspiracy and a plot that could change life as we know it.
I’ll admit it: I was skeptical of a tale about a warrior dog. I appreciate animals but I’m not one to say that my dog is the equivalent of one of my children. But I like Rollins’ work enough that I had to check it out, and the advance time I had to read it sucked me into a story that made both the human and the dog into characters that I cared about. It seemed possible that they could both be badly hurt, if not killed, and I wanted them to succeed because their moralistic decisions erred on the side of mercy, even as others tried to destroy them.
Fans of Ludlum, any of the Ian Fleming or John Gardner 007 books, or past Rollins or Tom Clancy work will appreciate this tale that gives us enough military process without overwhelming us with it. We traipse with our pair of heroes over Russia, into Africa, and back to the States, and the description adds to the element of adventure, rather than drowning it or appearing superfluous. We don’t always know what lurks around the corner but we feel like we know what these two are risking.
Unlike some of our human ‘buddy’ pairings, we come to understand what it means to really rely on the other person. This is like a buddy cop film, without the slapstick humor and with more of a feel for what these two mean to each other. Obviously, animals have more of a unconditional love element (they forgive the moment they’ve forgotten) but we walk away from an exciting story recognizing that there’s something special about their partnership as well. I’ve seen it with a friend who has a service dog, and it makes you stop and consider how you relate to others, whether they’re your four-legged friends or another person.
Ultimately, Rollins and Blackwood prove that they can work together to deliver top-shelf excitement, just as their characters deliver cooperation in the mission. It’s well worth reading, and I can’t wait for Round Two.