Book Review: Killing Trail, Margaret Mizushima

Book Review: Killing Trail, A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, Margaret Mizushima

Killing Trail, Margaret Mizushima

Mystery: Killing Trail, A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, Margaret Mizushima


Mattie Cobb has just returned to her hometown of Timber Creek, where she has served as a deputy
sheriff for many years. With her she is bringing the latest recruit to the force, her new partner Robo. Cobb
and Robo have been training together for several weeks, and now they have returned to the small town
of Timber Creek to begin doing actual police work.

Robo unfortunately gets the opportunity right away to prove his value. Rangers were checking out a
cabin where a strange car had been parked. They found a large bloodstain on the porch. It could have
been from hunters–but the porch is typically not where you would bleed or butcher a deer. Robo follows
the scent trail and discovers the partially buried body of a local teenage girl.

This book checks all of the boxes for a typical police procedural. The police investigate, follow clues,
interview witnesses, and work to get their killer behind bars. Throw in a little nascent romance between
Mattie and the local veterinarian, and you have a fairly stock-in-trade genre novel. What does make this
more than that, however, is the rich detail author Margaret Mizushima puts into the forming relationship
between Mattie and Robo. Mizushima has assisted in her husband’s veterinary clinic for many years.
She lives in a small Colorado town. She intensively researched the training and jobs of both dogs and
handlers of K-9 officers. This makes for a rich twist on the standard procedural novel.

Although I have had dogs most of my life, I have never trained them or worked with them. My dogs are
quite good at sitting on laps and shedding and drooling. Reading about the work involved in shaping both
dog and human was fascinating. It’s one thing to know that a dog’s sense of smell is extraordinary. It’s
quite another to read that it can be enhanced by giving the dog something to drink before asking it to
follow a scent trail–a wet nose is even more sensitive than a dry one. In the movies, dogs immediately
find a scent trail and take off running after their quarry. Robo’s work is not always as straightforward, and
sometimes it requires Mattie to interpret what the dog is trying to communicate. Did Robo follow the
blood trail to a wounded dog or to something else? Is Robo reacting to someone’s bad personality or
does he sense something humans can’t?

Killing Trail is a well-done police procedural starring a dedicated female cop and her amazing canine
partner. I will look to see other books about this inspired pair.


Killing Trail, Margaret Mizushima

Book Review: Killing Trail, A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, Margaret Mizushima

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