Aspen Courtland is out to find her missing brother. Only his combat tracking dog, Talon, knows where to look. Problem is, after a brutal attack that separated dog and handler, Talon’s afraid of his own shadow. The search is on, but when one mistake means disaster, can Talon muster the courage for one last mission?
This is a very good second book in the series that follows on from Tinity. Some of the characters from this first novel have bit parts in this second book while others play more involved roles.
We first met Aspen in Trinity, and it was there that we learn she desperately wants to find her brother who she does not believe in dead but MIA. A clue is in an interview with a man, known as Cardinal, who worked with her brother, Austin, before he went missing and it is this event that sparks a mission to Dijoubti, Africa, where he was most recently seen that initiates the mission to find him.
As with the previous novel, there is action, adventure, suspense and that good old, "cannot put down" quality that needs to be part of any military novel.
In Trinity, we are introduced to Aspen and in Talon it is about her story. She had become the handler of Talon, who was abandoned by Austin when he went MIA, presumed dead by the military. She does not believe he is dead. Since Austin's disappearance, she has to deal with and try to rehabilitate the PTSD that Talon suffers from and to rebuild his trust and confidence in people and to act as a military dog once again.
Kendig deals with this very well. She has a knack of encouraging you to connect with Talon and Aspen and treat them as a unit of which they are. She also developed the other characters, Candyman, Burnett, Hogan and others who make up the team to Djibouti to find Austin. This is good as it means they will most likely be in the third novel, Beowulf as well.
Kendig developed some very good plot structures. She had me guessing for a while about the true identity of Neil Crane and Lina, his girlfriend and her connection to one of the main characters I did not suspect until this was revealed at the end. That was clever. I also did not see the connection to Neil and Cardinal's father.
One other plot structure that I found intriguing was the background to Nikol and who he could be connected to or his real identity. I started to get my suspicions just over half way through the book as the relationship between Cardinal and Aspen was developing.
All these were connected well and explained at the end which made for a well rounded and complete ending.
I also liked how Kendig further developed the character of Timbrel Hogan. Such a man hater and toxic character but one who has been hurt badly by men and relationships and developing her in this novel sets the scene for her story in the next book in this series, Beowulf, Explosive Detective Dog. It will be good to see what happens to Candyman and her from the obvious attraction Candyman has for her and her trying valiantly to deny this and keep her toxic and "I hate all men" attitude that us readers came to love to hate in her in this novel.
What fitted in well in all this was the references to God and the reliance of Him when Aspen and Cardinal were at their lowest and most despairing. This was done well and for me portrayed the nature of God's mercy, love and forgiveness and letting go and letting Him take control of their situation.
I still had trouble with Kendig's writing style. Again with some of the dialogue flow and having to back track to get back on track. Not sure what it is. No other reviewer whom I have read has had this issue. Maybe it is just me.
One the whole, another Strongly Recommended book.