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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Right Side

I love Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie mystery series.  Chet "The Jet" is the narrator for these stories, and although he's entirely professional, he is after all, an easily distracted dog.  Chet never met a cheese doodle he didn't like, even in the middle of a case.  Granted, some of the subject matter covered in these books is pretty grim, so I shouldn't have been surprised that his latest novel The Right Side (#681) is one hundred and eighty degrees from the humorous tone of the Chet and Bernie series.

In this stand-alone novel, Sgt. LeAnne Hogan is recovering at Walter Reed Hospital after surviving an attack on her patrol in Afghanistan.  She lost not only an eye, but a large part of herself.  She's not a particularly likeable character here, but she does manage to bond with her roommate Marci, struggling to adjust to her prosthetic leg.  Marci is motivated to get back to Washington state and her young daughter Mia. 

If only Captain Stallings would stop bugging her to remember her last, failed mission, LeAnne would be much happier.  When she wakes one morning to find that Marci has unexpectedly died, it ;pushes LeAnne beyond her limits.  She sneaks out of the hospital and hops on a bus with no destination in mind.  At some point she acquires a car, driving aimlessly until she arrives in Marci's hometown to find that her daughter Mia has gone missing...

LeAnne Hogan is a stand-in for every veteran who has come back from war damaged, both externally and internally.  Her PTSD has played havoc with her memory and her emotions, but her drive to stand up for herself and do things on her own has survived intact.  It is not until she is adopted by a huge black dog (and she is definitely not a dog person!) that she gradually comes to realize that the dog Goody is protecting her blind side literally and figuratively.  It might be time to start trusting others a little and take the first steps towards healing herself.

The dog is a key character in The Right Side, as unlovely in her own way as LeAnne now feels herself to be.  Both have been damaged, but together they are stronger.  Goody forces LeAnne to think of someone other than herself and to provide vital evidence to solve two injustices. 

Although difficult to read at times, it was equally difficult to put this book down.  Highly recommended.

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