Breaking Creed, by Alex Kava. Putnam. 320 pages. Hardcover $26.95.
Stranded, Ms. Kava’s recent Maggie O’Dell novel, introduced a fascinating character named Ryder Creed. Ryder is an ex-Marine who has built a successful business near Pensacola as a canine search-and-rescue dog trainer. His dogs can locate cadavers, captive or injured victims, drugs, explosives, and so forth. With Breaking Creed, Alex Kava launches a new series featuring Ryder, though Maggie is very much in the picture.
As the novel opens we meet fourteen year old Amanda and her handler, Leandro. Amanda stays alive by swallowing dozens of condoms stuffed with cocaine. She is both protected and controlled by Leandro and a woman called Zapata. Readers get a quick glimpse of the horrid life led by kidnapped or runaway girls exploited as slaves in a drug distribution network.
The scene shifts abruptly one in which Creed is transported by Coast Guard helicopter to a cutter. Along the way, we learn how he has developed a business with multi-million dollar annual billings and an undesired high profile. Creed’s exploits, followed in the popular media, have made him a new kind of pop culture star. His undercurrent motivation is the hope that he will find his sister who disappeared some fifteen years earlier.
We also learn about his partnership with Hanna and the facility they have built to secure, care for, and train their dogs.
Creed is traveling with Grace, the smallish Jack Russell terrier that is his favorite and most versatile dog. Creed’s job is to explore, with Grace, a large fishing boat, “Blue Mist,” thought to be working for a new Colombian drug cartel called Choque Azul (Blue Shock). Grace sniffs out human cargo – children hidden beneath the floorboards.
The next plot strand brings us to the edge of the Potomac River, where FBI agent Maggie O’Dell has been sent to investigate a corpse found there. She arrives to find the DC medical examiner, Stan Wenhofff, hard at work. The body, which had been in the water at least a week, carries a strange tattoo, an odd rash, and ligature marks. The man had been tortured and perhaps killed while being held in place to be attacked by fire ants.
Then Ms. Kava introduces an assassin self-named the Ice Man, a killer adept at arcane tortures and killings. We imagine a link between him and the fire ant victim. The man’s identity is easily revealed; his driver’s license had been found shoved into his throat. Trevor Bagley.
Soon enough, the story involving Amanda and the story involving Bagley link up. Thus Creed’s case and O’Dell’s will also link up. The Choque Azul cartel has left its message, the tortured Trevor Bagley, as a warning to others who might get out of line. The human trafficking and the drug trafficking are connected enterprises. Before long, Creed’s name appears on the cartel’s hit list. . . .
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the January 28, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the January 29 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Breaking Creed