Threat of bird flu epidemic sets canine-aided security force into action

Reckless Creed, by Alex Kava. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 336 pages. Hardcover $27.00.

Alex Kava’s highly original Ryder Creed series gets better and better as the title character gains in complexity. His interaction with FBI agent Maggie O’Dell allows fresh challenges for this fine title character of her earlier series. The originality of the Creed series lies in the occupation of its protagonist; the former marine is now an established, sought-after trainer of search-and-rescue dogs. He has a thriving facility on the Florida panhandle. recklesscreed

The plot concerns a bird flu contagion that might have been manipulated, if not an unintended consequence of radical experimentation under the wraps of government agencies.  How do you test an antidote without developing victims to catch and carry the disease? Among the alphabet soup of government medical research operations, something sinister is going on. Is there a chance that some rogue group is working to weaponized bird flu?

Birds are falling out of the sky. Are infected birds, living or dead, a threat to humans? Can the disease evolve or be engineered to that end? Is the virus air-borne, conveyed by touch, by exposure to infected bodily fluids?

Such questions energize this red-hot thriller, and – as we might expect – canine abilities come into play.

As usual, Ms. Kava masterfully employs the alternation of terse, vivid scenes to build a plot as much spatial as it is temporal. In Chicago, Tony, a long-time friend of Creed’s assistant Jason, is extremely sick. He’s being paid to touch as many surfaces as possible. Followers report his progress. He is coughing up blood, feverish, and nauseated. Tony steps out onto the 19th floor balcony of his hotel room for some fresh air, then is suddenly pushed over the railing, plunging to his death.

Alex Kava

Alex Kava

In New York, ailing yet determined Christina Lomax leads a marginal life in a similar employ. She plays the role of a tourist, disguising her actions as a player in an experiment. She too has handlers and followers.

In southern Alabama, Ryder Creed’s favorite search dog, Grace, discovers a young woman drowned in a river with rocks in her pockets. In Nebraska, Maggie O’Dell sees redwing blackbirds falling from the sky.

Bird flu is the link, and Creed’s dogs are the hoped for solution. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the December 8, 2016 Naples Florida Weekly and also the, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Reckless Creed

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