Sunday, January 31, 2021

"Leave No Trace"

Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries and the FBI K-9s series.

They applied the Page 69 Test to their latest FBI K-9s novel, Leave No Trace, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Fine,” Meg conceded. “But I want you horizontal. What about the couch?”

“That’ll do.”

“Come on,” McCord coaxed, pulling Webb forward. “Let’s get you settled. I was about to grab a beer. Want one?”

“No,” Meg and Cara said in unison.

“Apparently not,” Webb said. “Which is a crying shame because I could really use one right now.” He turned imploring eyes on Cara. “If I can’t have beer, can I at least get some coffee?”

“Absolutely.” Cara waited until he smiled his thanks, and then said, “Decaf. No caffeine while you’re recovering. It can interfere with your sleep patterns.”

Webb’s smile fell away. “This is seriously no fun.”

“You’re not supposed to have fun.” Meg led the way into the living room, Hawk and Saki at her heels. “You’re on medical leave.”

As he went by, Cara poked McCord in the biceps. “And you can have coffee, too. It’s not fair for you to have a beer when Todd can’t.”

McCord and Webb exchanged dour glances. “You nailed it,” said McCord. “This is seriously no fun.”
As with the previous four FBI K-9 books, Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue black Lab, Hawk, have a mystery to investigate—in this case, an unseen bowhunter who is picking off human victims in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. But there is a strong subplot in the book that revolves around the themes of family, teamwork, and compromise. On page 69 of Leave No Trace, we see part of that subplot.

Meg and her sister Cara share a house in Arlington, and both women are involved in serious relationships. Meg’s partner Todd Webb, a firefighter, is trapped when a roof collapses while he and his team are fighting a house fire, and has to be rescued. He comes close to death, and is lucky to escape with only a concussion and a strained rotator cuff. When he’s released from the hospital, Meg brings him home only to be met at the door by Cara and Clay McCord, Cara’s partner and an investigative reporter at the Washington Post. It’s a moment of family unity—everyone rallies around the injured Webb, and while Meg and McCord want to discuss the case, they do so in a way that involves everyone. But this scene above also foreshadows a significant moment of team unity that will occur later in the book when once again a life is on the line.

The themes of family, teamwork, and the importance of compromise echo through the novel surrounding the main case. And the extreme level of danger in this case only brings home the importance of those connections. Because when a killer is hunting humans and then ghosting into the mountains, the next target may be the K-9 teams that are in turn hunting them…
Learn more about the FBI K-9 Novels.

Coffee with a Canine: M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf.

The Page 69 Test: Storm Rising.

The Page 69 Test: No Man's Land.

--Marshal Zeringue