Title: Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima
Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
When Deputy Ken Brody’s sweetheart goes missing in the mountains outside Timber Creek, Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called to search. But it’s mid-October and a dark snow storm is brewing over the high country. And they’re already too late. By the time they find her body, the storm has broken and the snow is coming down hard.
While Brody hikes down to bring back the forensics team and veterinarian Cole Walker gathers supplies to protect them from the storm, Mattie and Robo find themselves alone, guarding the gravesite overnight in the dead of the early winter. And that’s only the first long, dark night in a series of them, because as their investigation develops, Mattie, Robo, Brody, and Cole find themselves in the middle of the killer’s stalking ground–where the hunters have just become the hunted.
An effortlessly engrossing read filled with tension, excitement, and heart, Stalking Ground, the second in Margaret Mizushima’s lauded debut series, will send a chill down every reader’s spine.
Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima is another perplexing mystery in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series starring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner, Robo.
In this second installment in the series, Mattie and Robo are tasked with the unenviable job of trying to locate Chief Deputy Ken Brody’s missing girlfriend, massage therapist Adrienne Howard. Although Adrienne has not be gone for very long, Brody is certain she is the victim of foul play but Mattie cannot help but wonder if she has just left. When the missing woman’s car is found, Mattie and Robo try to track her but when Robo cannot find a trace of Adrienne, Mattie fears the worst. After receiving an anonymous tip, Mattie, Robo and Brody are faced with the grim task of searching for Adrienne’s body in a remote mountainous area. When they uncover her remains, Mattie sends Brody to bring in the rest of the investigative team while she and Robo guard the burial site and gather evidence. When an early snowstorm hits, local veterinarian Cole Walker, who is also a member of the volunteer mounted patrol, brings them much needed supplies to endure the storm. The next day, Mattie and Robo once again team up with Detective Stella LoSasso as the investigation into Adrienne’s murder begins.
While Mattie still relates better to her canine partner than people, she is making progress with her co-workers and friends. She enjoys spending time with Cole and his daughters, fifteen year old Angela and eight year old Sophie, but she is little uneasy about some of the feelings she has for Cole. She has a casual friendship with her co-worker, Rainbow but Mattie still remains close to her former foster mother Teresa “Mama T” Lovato. Mattie is estranged from her brother Willie but in recent months, he has been tentatively reaching out to her through Mama T. When he finally works up the courage to call her, she is at first happy to hear from him, but an unexpected revelation brings up unsettling pieces of memories Mattie would rather leave buried.
Mattie’s professional relationship with Brody is much less contentious but he remains skeptical of Robo’s skills and although she thinks he is too close to the case, she agrees to work with him. In the aftermath of their gruesome discovery, Brody goes back to regular patrol duties while Mattie and Stella spearhead the investigation. They discover some puzzling information about Adrienne’s past but with few leads, they are not making much progress in locating a suspect or uncovering a motive for her murder.
Cole has a professional connection to Adrienne but unfortunately, he is not much help during the investigation. He has a lot going on both professionally and personally so his interactions with Mattie are somewhat limited. She does offer some useful advice for his ongoing issues with his oldest daughter Angela, who is still having troubling adjusting to her mom’s abandonment and her parents’ divorce. In the midst of the upheaval at home, Cole is spending quite a bit of time on the road as he travels to an isolated ranch to treat an extremely ill horse. Growing concerned over the lack of progress and some very puzzling symptoms and test results, Cole is stunned when he finally learns the truth about the cause of horse’s illness.
Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima is a gripping addition to the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series. The characters are immensely appealing and they continue to grow and evolve as they work on their individual issues. The mystery surrounding Adrienne’s murder is quite intriguing and while it is fairly easy to guess who the killer is, the perpetrator’s motive remains elusive until the novel’s rather dramatic conclusion. A well-written and engaging whodunit that old and new fans of this refreshingly unique series are going to enjoy.