Smoky Mountain Tracks, by Donna Ball

A Raine Stockton Dog Mystery

Search and rescue in the Smoky mountains.  Sounds like an interesting premise for s series, doesn’t it?  Well trained dogs,  interesting relationships, and murder.  All in the mountains.  Close to perfect to me.  Which is why I couldn’t resist reading the first of the series. Very enjoyable it was too.

Raine, still recovering from a tragedy that has made her lose interest in search and rescue, is our main recurring character.

Buck, sheriff deputy and ex-husband once or twice, is second.  Add in an uncle who is sheriff and a community where everyone seems to know everyone else.

In this first book, Buck phones Raine at three in the morning to ask her help.  Her instant reaction is no way.  But when she learns she is needed to search for a missing child there is no way she can say no.

She doesn’t trust herself or her new young golden retriever, Cisco, to do the job.  Still she agrees.  Instead of finding the little girl, they find Cisco’s nose in an empty can of beans. They don’t find the young girl, but they do find her kidnapper, shot and killed.  Not what she would consider a success.  Now she is depressed, and disappointed in her dog too.

It isn’t until a woman claims her Cisco feels bad that he didn’t get the bunny buried in the hole that Raine realized she may have been wrong about her dog.  It leads her back to the trail Cisco first took and to more startling finds.  From there, it seems everywhere she searches she finds the girl had been there.

Do we have a dog psychic?  A dog whisperer?  Maybe.  Do we have a murderer?  Definitely.

Entertaining Series You Could Call Cozy

It’s a sweet little mystery that entertains.  Raine’s relationship with her dog is what drew me to the book, and it kept me.  In this case the dog might be wiser than the trainer.  I liked the way the dog was very involved in the story.  It’s not just the story of a person who happens to have a dog.  The animals are important to the story, just as they are in real life search and rescue.

The more Raine sees in her dog, the more valuable the dog becomes. Interesting how trust builds upon trust, in the book and in life.   As their trust builds, perhaps Raine can find her way again.

Book two, Rapid Fire,  is already in my cart.  I’d like to learn more about Raine and Buck, and of course, Cisco and Search and Rescue.

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