"Police dog handlers under threat in this great romantic suspense series"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted June 25, 2016
Inspirational Mystery | Mystery Pet Lovers | Romance Contemporary
Ever since the 'Texas K9' series this little band of
authors has been working with a winning formula. Romance,
suspense, and highly trained police dogs. The fact that the
books have all been inspirational is an advantage to my
mind, because the authors have to concentrate on building
character and plot, not just dive into the bedroom when the
going gets slow. The first in a new series from this
brilliant team is PROTECT AND SERVE and the series is
called 'Rookie K-9 Unit'. Just look for the books with
beautiful dogs on the covers.
Arizona is the new location - previous series have been in
small town Texas and Washington DC. A police dog training
facility is at the heart of the action as Georgina Perry is
stalked by her manic brother one night and runs to the
facility looking for help. But someone lies dead on the
ground, and her brother is behind Georgina with a knife.
Shane Weston, a rookie handler, is out walking his German
Shepherd called Bella on Desert Valley Road. Bella alerts
and takes off, and Shane finds Gina near the body of the
dog trainer Veronica. The assailant backs off, but he's not
gone far. There hasn't been a murder here for years, though
there were some unsolved deaths, but now the police have
their hands full. Even Gina has to be treated as a suspect.
The deceased lady, Veronica, had made enemies, between
chewing out employees and stealing another woman's fiancé.
But is any of this worth killing for? Or was it a random
killing after all? The police only have Gina's word for it
about her brother, and she was no fan of Veronica.
Additionally, one of the pups is missing. Shane is assigned
to protect Gina, after her house is found to be trashed.
Whatever the story about her and Veronica, it's clear
someone means this lady harm.
With responsible discussion of a mentally ill person who
refuses to take his meds, and crime scene analysis, it's
clear that a lot of research went into this adventure.
There are vexed questions surrounding a gun safe with a
biometric lock - that's a fingerprint as a key. We meet
several other dogs, from a bloodhound to a golden Lab.
Presumably these and their handlers will feature in the
coming books of this linked series. Romance? Action? Yes!
While this case is concluded there is a bigger crime to
solve over the course of the series. Next will be TRUTH OR
CONSEQUENCES by Lenora Worth. Top marks for the
psychological chiller PROTECT AND SERVE which sets a great
standard. As ever Terri Reed provides her characters with
depth, intelligence and courage.
PERSON OF INTEREST
When rookie K-9 officer Shane West and his German
partner find the lead police dog trainer murdered, he's
determined to bring the killer to justice. But then he
discovers Gina Perry hiding nearby—a pretty junior
who had the motive, means and opportunity to kill her
Gina insists her troubled brother is the real murderer…
this isn't the first time he's killed. And when Gina's
brother comes after her, Shane is assigned to protect her
and uncover the truth. Suddenly, Shane—a cop who always
hoped to join a big-city force—vows to stay by Gina's
as a murderer lurks in the small-town shadows.
Rookie K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases
the help of their brave canine partners.
Gina Perry froze midstride in the center of her bedroom.
An explosion of panic detonated in her chest. She
recognized the unmistakable singsong tone of her brother.
Oh, no. No, no, no. Tim had tracked her to Desert Valley,
Frantic with alarm, she whirled around to search the
confines of her upstairs bedroom. The sliding glass door
to the terrace stood open, allowing the dark March night
air to fill her house.
Where was he? How had he discovered where she’d been
hiding? Had she made a fatal error that brought him to
She stumbled backward on shaky legs just as her brother
stepped from the shadows of her closet.
Light from the bedside table lamp glinted off the steel
blade of a large knife held high in his hand. His face
was covered by a thick beard, his hair stuck out in a
wild frenzy and the mania gleaming in his hazel eyes
slammed a fist of fear into her gut.
Choking with terror, she turned and fled down the stairs.
She couldn’t let him catch her or he’d make good on his
threat to kill her. Just as he had their father two years
Her bare feet slid on the hardwood steps. She used the
handrail to keep her balance.
Tim pounded down the stairs behind her, the sound
hammering into her like nails on a coffin.
Her breathing came out in harsh rasps, filling her head
with the maddening noise. She made a grab for her phone
on the charger in the foyer but missed. Abandoning the
device, she lurched for the front door and managed to get
the lock undone and the door opened.
Without a backward glance, she sprinted into the night,
across the small yard to the road. Rocks and debris bit
into her bare feet, but she ignored the pain. Faster!
Dear God, help me!
The Desert Valley police station was only half a mile
down the quiet residential road on the west side of town.
Street lamps provided pools of light that threatened to
expose her. She ducked behind the few cars parked along
the curb and moved rapidly through the shadows.
She had to reach the police station. Only there would she
would be safe.
There, Tim couldn’t hurt her.
“Sisssster! I’m coming for you!”
He wasn’t far behind. She’d never make it to the station
before he caught her. But the K-9 training center where
she worked was closer. If she could get inside, she could
call for help.
Grateful the moon hid behind cloud cover on this spring
night, she stayed in the shadows and prayed she’d make it
to safety. Just a little farther now. Her lungs burned
from exertion. Her heart pounded in her chest.
Not daring to glance back to see how close Tim had gained
on her, she ran for the training center and dove behind
the bushes growing along the fence of the small outdoor
puppy-training yard. She sent up a silent plea to God
above that Tim wouldn’t find her in the bushes.
“You can’t hide from me,” Tim shouted, his voice taking
on the manic tone she knew all too well. A tone that had
always sent her into hiding when they were kids.
Her body trembled with fear. She curled into herself,
hoping to make herself smaller, less of a target for him
to spot. The unmistakable sound of his heavy breathing as
he passed by her hiding place tormented her. She bit her
lip, drawing blood, the coppery taste making her gag. She
clamped a hand over her mouth.
“You betrayed me, Gina. For that you’ll pay. I’m going to
kill you as soon as I find you.”
His voice sounded farther away now. He’d moved past the
yard and was nearly at the end of the next building. She
breathed a small sigh of relief. But she couldn’t relax.
She wasn’t safe yet. She had to get inside the training
Cautiously, she made her way along the training yard
fence in a low crouch. The gate to the yard was open.
Odd. All the trainers were careful to keep them closed
and locked in case a dog escaped from the center and made
it outside. It was as much for the dogs’ protection as
the general public’s.
She rounded the corner and froze.
Someone lay faceup on the ground, half in, half out of
Moving closer, Gina recognized Veronica Earnshaw.
Panic crawled up Gina’s throat and she gasped for air.
There were two gaping wounds in Veronica’s chest.
Oh, no. No! Had Tim done this? Had he come to the
training center first and, when he’d failed to find Gina,
hurt Veronica instead?
Gina scuttled closer. Please, Lord, don’t let her be
With a trembling hand, she put two fingers against
No pulse. Gina’s heart sank.
It seemed, once again, God had ignored Gina’s plea. Just
as He had when Gina witnessed her brother murder their
She choked back a sob. Tears blurred her vision. It
should have been her lying in the dirt, not Veronica.
A scrape of noise echoed in the stillness of the night.
Her brother retracing his steps?
She scuttled back to the bushes, burrowing in deep and
drawing her knees to her chest. A line of scripture wove
through the shock numbing her mind. She clung to it like
a lifeline. The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid.
The litany echoed through her head, mocking her. Because
she was afraid. Deathly afraid.
Officer Shane Weston and his canine partner, a German
shepherd named Bella, walked along Desert Valley Road.
The cool Arizona night air smelled of the fragrant
western honey mesquite trees that had started to flower
as spring arrived.
It was dark, nearly ten o’clock, but Shane couldn’t
remain cooped up inside the condo he was staying in, one
for out-of-town trainees. He was restless, anxious to see
where he’d be assigned. He’d put in a request for his
hometown police department of Flagstaff, but no one could
guarantee he’d get his choice or even that he had a
This past Friday, he’d completed his twelve-week training
session at the Canyon County Training Center, a pilot
project for the state of Arizona that trained new police
recruits to be K-9 officers.
Not every candidate who applied was selected for the K-9
program. Shane had been thrilled that he’d made the cut.
Once he was accepted, he’d been placed with a group of
other rookies, and they’d attended the police academy
together in Phoenix before coming to Desert Valley for
the K-9 training.
Upon the start of every twelve-week session, the trainers
matched each officer with a dog based on master trainer
Veronica Earnshaw’s research into the rookies, along with
questionnaires the recruits filled out prior to the start
of the program.
Shane had gleaned that all the trainers used their
instincts and knowledge of dogs to help with the pairing
of officers to canines. The center was a well-run
operation, highly respected throughout the state and a
model for other centers.
Shane couldn’t be more pleased with his pairing to Bella.
He knew, however, that once the training began, if a dog
and rookie officer hadn’t jelled for whatever reason and
the trainers’ attempts to intervene failed, then the
officer and dog were reassigned to work with new partners
to finish out the program.
Thankfully, he and Bella had meshed from the moment they
Now that training was complete, the officers and their
canines would be allocated to various police stations
throughout Arizona, and the training center would then be
reimbursed by the police stations. A win-win for
Shane sent up another quick prayer that his request would
be honored and he’d be assigned to the Flagstaff PD,
where he could prove to his brothers and father that he
wasn’t weak. He wasn’t a failure.
He planned to be the best officer he could be, with
ambitions to one day make captain, or even chief. One day
he’d be the one in charge, and then he’d finally earn his
Shane waved a greeting to an older man taking out his
Very few people were out on this Saturday night, and
those who were made a point of acknowledging him and
Bella. Shane liked that the community of Desert Valley
embraced the K-9 officers and their canine partners. He
couldn’t say the same of bigger cities, where law
enforcement was usually viewed with fear, suspicion and
Bella stopped abruptly, her ears perking and her nose
lifting to smell the air.
Unease tightened Shane’s shoulder muscles. She’d been
alerted to something. “What is it, girl?”
Bella took off. Keeping the beam of the flashlight aimed
ahead of him, Shane ran to keep up, his feet pounding
noisily on the pavement. The lead connected to the dog’s
collar pulled taut, and Shane pressed himself to move
faster. They headed toward the training center. Had
something happened to one of the dogs? The trainers?
Bella led him past the veterinary clinic and skidded to a
halt at the outdoor puppy-training yard.
Shane stopped and kept Bella at his side. He swept his
flashlight over the scene before him. Dread crimped his
chest. He sucked in a quick breath.
Veronica Earnshaw lay twisted on the ground with her dark
hair and striking face coated in dirt. Her open eyes
stared at the stars above. And what appeared to be two
gunshot wounds marred her chest. Bile rose in his throat.
His priority as the first officer on the scene was to
determine if the victim was alive or dead.
Bella tugged at the leash. He gave her the hand movement
to sit and stay. She obeyed, but her gaze was riveted to
the bushes along the fence.
Was the perpetrator hiding in there?
Wishing he had his sidearm, which he’d left locked up in
the condo, he shone the flashlight on the thick
shrubbery. He let out Bella’s lead. She made a beeline
for the greenery and sat staring at the dense foliage.
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Police dog handlers under threat in this great romantic suspense series
This is a wonderful book. Terri Reed is one of my go-to
(Nancy Brophy 8:55pm June 25, 2016)
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