For Picks of The Litter, a regular book review series, Ranny Green critiques “Silent Creed,” by Alex Kava. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Murders, secrets, lies, political cover-up, a devastating mudslide, an edgy relationship, and search-and-rescue dogs add up to a fast-paced, riveting read in this second Ryder Creed novel set in contrasting environments of Washington, D.C., and North Carolina’s Haywood County.
Boasting more twists and turns than a Disney World rollercoaster, the absorbing novel centers on a deadly mudslide in North Carolina in which former Marine Ryder Creed and two of his K-9 CrimeScents dogs, Bolo, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Grace, a Russell Terrier, were brought in to search for survivors and deceased. In the process, he finds himself working with FBI agent Maggie O’Dell, with whom he had partnered in previous assignments.
After Creed, whose naturalness remains a beguiling virtyue, and Grace find and save an elderly woman in the muddy setting, the scenario takes a dramatic turn into a crime scene when two staffers from a buried secret government research facility are found murdered.
Add to that Creed and multi-tasker Bolo’s near brush with death while buried deep in the mud and you have all the ingredients for a thriller. Later O’Dell helps rescue Creed from a raging stream and moments later Bolo from a concrete boulder in the same waterway, endearing herself more to the thankful dog handler.
Middle chapters ping pong between Senate hearings in Washington, D.C., and the harrowing rescue work in North Carolina. The hearings are led by Sen. Ellie Delanor of Florida, who is trying to root out the secrecy surrounding long-term Army chemical tests in the 1960s and ‘70s, which became known as Project 112 and Project SHAD, in several U.S. cities to which the highly classified North Carolina facility appears to be linked.
The purpose of these tests, according to the Department of Defense, was to identify the United States’ vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical and biological warfare agents. These tests involved a chemical or stimulant of a chemical that was sprayed from military jets over cities or a ship. In the latter, sailors were trained how to decontaminate a ship after a test and how to conduct air samplings.
As the storyline builds toward a combustible conclusion with poignant flashpoints, fragmentary encounters, and an intoxicating blend of tension and passion, the reader finds himself/herself racing for the finish line with gusto yet yearning to get his/her hands on the next moving Creed story of true grit.