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Focusing on the alternating perspectives of a father and a son during a very rough couple of days, Edgar Award winner Schwegel's (Officer Down) latest novel is an ambitious work that depends upon the successful realization and creation of a child's voice. When the work focuses on Pete, a worn-down Chicago police officer trying to regroup in the K9 unit after a messy public scandal had derailed his career, the book breezes along like the best stories of George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, or Michael Connelly. Whether bantering with an uncooperative witness, arguing with his wife and daughter, or parsing out the backstory of his scandal, Pete is a fully realized and engaging character. When the chapters switch back to Pete's 11-year-son, Joel, who is on the run with his dad's police dog Butchie after encountering an armed guest at a neighbor's party, the story begins to bog down. Something is off with Joel's characterization and narrative, and these chapters read like a contrived plot device rather than a smooth extension of the story. The work is not for readers squeamish about violence toward animals, as an early plot point hinges on an extremely graphic act. Verdict For fans of gritty police procedurals who are not opposed to scenes of animal abuse.-Julie Elliott, Indiana Univ. Lib., South Bend (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Eleven-year-old Joel Murphy and his father's police dog, Butch, take center stage in this nail-biter from Edgar-winner Schwegel (Last Known Address). Officer Pete Murphy, Joel's father and Butch's handler and partner, is embroiled in a civil suit brought by the brother of a slain gang member, which all leads back to Murphy's last big case involving the protection of-and potential affair with-an influential Chicago judge. Wallflower Joel slips through life largely unnoticed, playing elaborate versions of cops and robbers with a neighborhood girl, Molly, while his older sister, McKenna, flaunts her teenage spirit with parties and underage drinking. But when Joel and Butch see something they shouldn't-and more importantly, someone sees them see it-they take off, each determined to take care of the other at any cost. The reader will empathize with everyone from Pete, who has his heart in the right place but makes several wrong turns, to Butch, who never speaks yet says volumes. Agent: David Hale Smith, Inkwell Management. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.