CBR #52 – To Protect and Slobber

Suspect by Robert Crais

I have always been scared of dogs.  Since I was three and got bitten by my grandmother’s dog Midgie.  So I’ve always been nervous and scared. Whenever people have dogs they always say, “Oh, he’s never bitten anyone.”  And then their dog would lunge for me.  Or growl at me.  Or sometimes they would press up against me and try to protect me from everyone else.  Which freaked me out because I didn’t know why this dog I didn’t want near me was trying to press itself against me.

So when my fiancee and I got engaged, she decided she didn’t want an engagement ring. She wanted a puppy.  And so we got ourselves a dog.  Porkchop, our shar pei-pug mix.  I can’t think of a bigger commitment to “I will always be with you and I will change myself in whatever way is necessary to be a better person” than to get a dog.  I faced my fears.  This was an animal that I had no control over.  I’d have to stick my hand in his mouth.  I’d get bitten.  I’d get barked at.  I’d get growled at.  I’d be responsible for cleaning up any assortment of messes: puke, pee, poop, slobber.  I would commit myself to a life where I would never be able to go out in pubic without at least 15% of my ensemble covered in fine white dog hairs.  I was scared to death.  And my life has changed forever.

I don’t want to become one of those sanctimonious douchewaffles who stare intently at you and say with church-carnival fortune teller eyes, “You don’t understand how much you will care about a dog until you own a dog.” They are the same people that seem to believe that their child is the first child that has ever been born and is more special than any other child possibly could be.  But there is an element to truth.  I’ve never ever thought I could honestly kill for another living creature until I got a dog.  I would literally straight up murder a motherfucker if they tried to hurt a dog.  Without a fucking blink.  And not a clean kill either.  I’m talking shit that makes the fucking front page of Reddit murder.  I love my dog more than other people.

So now I start reading Robert Crais’ Suspect, which is a procedural set in Los Angeles.  It’s basically the story of two wounded cops, a patrolman gunned down while his partner dies in a seemingly random shootout and a Marine dog who watches his owner get blasted by an IED and then gets hit by insurgent sniper fire.  It’s harrowing and it leaps back and forth between the perspective of the dog and the policeman.  Both are seriously damaged and have to heal one another.  I know that sounds like a fucking Hallmark Movie of the Week, but it honestly works in this story.

The procedural portion is a bit boilerplate.  I mean, once we get into it, it’s every cop story ever.  This book is kind of somewhere between a more artfully done version of James Rollins’ Tucker Wayne series and a less captivating version of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series.  I liked it, and I will definitely try to find a few more Robert Crais novels, because I like his style and he’s good with Los Angeles.  And he builds a great relationship between the dog and the damaged cop.  I felt myself getting upset, but again, I didn’t know if that was just that new heartstring getting plucked that makes it impossible to type the words Jurassic Bark without starting to tear up.

And with that review, first Cannonball COMPLETE.


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