“Reckless Creed” by Alex Kava combines an intense mystery with characters that are relatable and likeable. The added bonus of these stories is that readers get a glimpse into the responsibilities and duties of search dogs and their handlers.
Kava got the idea for the series from speaking with the head of the forensic science department. “We were talking about cadaver dogs. I always wanted to write a story featuring dogs, because I have loved them my entire life. In my other series that features FBI Agent Maggie O’Dell I introduced Ryder Creed and his search dog Grace. After writing them I fell in love with the characters and wanted to have them in a series of their own. I feel like I am a kindred spirit with Ryder since we both would be so content to just live in the company of dogs.”
The book begins in Chicago when a former military man supposedly jumps to his death. Because he had a brain injury most people suspect it was a suicide. Meanwhile in New York a sickly woman is given instructions to come into contact with as many people as possible. Throughout the states, other people are disappearing and getting killed. Called into investigate these suspicious circumstances, FBI Agent Maggie O’ Dell must decide if its suicide or some contagious illness, while Ryder Creed and his dogs are searching for a lost girl. As the novel progresses, it becomes evident that these supposedly unrelated incidents are connected. They race to find the source of the killer before many more become infected.
The main character, Ryder Creed, has made the transition from working with K-9s in Afghanistan to find IEDs, to his civilian life business. Currently, he has a business that uses search dogs for rescue and detection. Because he suffers from PTSD and understands the need to help his fellow soldiers he pays special attention to issues that affect himself and his peers.
Since Kava has given many of these dog handlers a military background she always gives a shout out to an issue facing those who have served. She noted to blackfive.net, “In this novel I wanted to highlight the issue of suicide among those who have and are serving. I write about military issues because I feel strongly about them, and it is not something we often hear about. I hope I do not sound like I am getting on a soap box so I try it incorporate it into the plot through the character’s personality traits. I have made sure most of the characters have some military connection.”
What makes this book stand out is how Kava utilizes realistic scenarios to make the plot very believable. The main theme involves the threat of biological terrorism and the dangers to the population. It brought home how a terrorist could be a suicide bomber using a virus instead of a vest. They infect innocent civilians by coughing or sneezing on others. Unaware they have become carriers people spread the disease.
What really frightens Kava is that besides the terrorist threat, “there is also the threat from accidents. Research labs with these deadly viruses are sloppy with few regulations and standards. One example had lab mice infected with something and they escaped. Another example, is that cattle given a vaccine were sent to slaughter for human consumption. I am afraid it might take an outbreak for people to learn how to deal with these dangers. How much collateral damage will there be? What surprises me is how unprepared we are for such a crisis.”
Readers also will discover how dogs are used to identify diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and C-diff through the changes made to a body’s organic compounds, gases, and scents. Kava noted, “Having read an article about dogs detecting diseases, I made the leap that they could detect viruses. They can detect lung, prostate, and ovarian cancers with accuracy. Their brain is dedicated to analyzing odors and it can separate scents. I learned about a boy who has diabetes. His trained dog can detect and alert his family when he needs insulin. I think this is remarkable. But one-third of the way through the book I started thinking if dogs were used to detect deadly viruses could they be exposed? We do know that in 2015 in the Midwest there was an outbreak of a dog flu that was believed to originate from the deadly bird flu. The good news is that a vaccine was developed.”
“Reckless Creed” is a riveting story of what can happen in a biological terrorist attack. Anyone who loves dogs will enjoy these characters, but beyond that everyone can see the importance of dogs in people’s lives. Kava does a great job in setting a tone of immediacy with the plot and characters.