A rescue dog, an ex-Marine, and an ex-convict are caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless gang in remote Washington state in this "first-rate thriller" (Associated Press) for "fans of CJ Box and Michael Koryta" (Booklist).
Former US Marine Jess Winslow reenters civilian life a new widow, with little more to her name than a broken-down house, a medical discharge for PTSD, and a loyal dog named Lucy. The only thing she actually cares about is that dog, a black-and-white pit bull mix who helps her cope with the devastating memories of her time in Afghanistan.
After fifteen years -- nearly half his life -- in state prison, Mason Burke owns one set of clothes, a wallet, and a photo of Lucy, the service dog he trained while behind bars. Seeking a fresh start, he sets out for Deception Cove, Washington, where the dog now lives. As soon as Mason knocks on Jess's door, he finds himself in the middle of a standoff between the widow and the deputy county sheriff. When Jess's late husband piloted his final "fishing" expedition, he stole and stashed a valuable package from his drug dealer associates. Now the package is gone, and the sheriff's department has seized Jess's dearest possession: her dog. Unless Jess turns over the missing goods, Lucy will be destroyed.
The last thing Mason wants is to be dragged back into the criminal world. The last thing Jess wants is to trust a stranger. But neither of them can leave a friend, the only good thing in either of their lives, in danger. To rescue Lucy, they'll have to forge an uneasy alliance. And to avoid becoming collateral damage in someone else's private war, they have to fight back -- and find a way to conquer their doubts and fears.
Deception Cove, Wash., "a rainy-day kind of place" that's the atmospheric setting of this superior standalone from Thriller Award finalist Laukkanen (Gale Force), is home to Jess Winslow, a Marine veteran whose service in Afghanistan left her with PTSD. Jess's husband, Ty, drowned while drunk, and her only companion is Lucy, a therapy dog. Jess receives an unsettling late-night visit from a power-hungry local deputy, Kirby Harwood, who insists that Jess must know the location of a package belonging to him that Ty possessed. Harwood is unwilling to accept Jess's protestations of ignorance, and his menacing posture prompts Lucy to attack him. When ex-convict Mason Burke, who just finished a prison sentence for homicide in Michigan, hears that Lucy has been designated for destruction after this incident, he's sure that the dog he took pride in training behind bars wouldn't have turned violent without good cause. Mason treks out to Deception Cove to save Lucy, a mission that inevitably puts him at odds with Harwood. A crackerjack plot enhances the moving portrayals of the leads' inner lives. Laukkanen has never been better.