Ridge by Margaret
Mizushima is a fast-paced and engrossing police procedural.
It features Matti Cobb and her K-9 German Shepherd partner
Robo, which makes these stories appealing to not only those
who enjoy mysteries, but also to animal lovers.
Having done her homework, the author spoke with and shadowed
those that train dogs. “I have a friend who retired
from training tracking dogs. She allowed me to watch her train
for tracking and evidence detection. I was inspired by her
to write about a female canine handler. In fact, she had a
dog named Robo, which I based the story dog Robo on. He could
do so many things: Patrol, apprehend, track, and even pick
up on gun powder to find hidden shells and casings.”
The plot has veterinarian Cole Walker and his two young daughters
enjoying their trail ride in the Colorado mountains until
they find a man’s charred boot with a decomposing foot
in it. Called in to search for the rest of the body Matti
and Robo find him. It is then Mattie realizes there is a personal
link to her own troubled past.
This book explores her disturbed childhood, having been placed
in foster homes since the age of six. Her father was convicted
of abusing her mother who later abandoned her and her brother.
This is why she and Cole are taking the relationship slow
although it is obvious they love each other.
Because her husband is a vet, Mizushima knows something about
the profession. “I always wanted to write a vet as a
protagonist. Similar to my husband, Cole is a mixed practice
vet, which means he treats large and small animals. He has
to overcome some personal problems after his wife left him
and his daughters. Both he and Mattie are hesitant to connect
because of their baggage with abandonment issues. This is
why I wrote, ‘And as much as she wanted to, she had
trouble allowing him past the wall she built to protect her
feelings.’ He is a work driven, a type-A personality,
but soft-hearted. She is kind, athletic, spunky, a loner,
independent, and vulnerable.”
What makes this novel special is the relationship between
the partners. Robo is not written as some Superdog, but with
realistic traits. Mattie and Robo are a dedicated team who
have a strong bond professionally and personally. He is truly
her best friend, and when she goes missing Robo uses his search
and rescue skills to find her.
Having lived in Colorado all her life, Mizushima is able to
create a realistic setting. She seems to draw from current
events since there have been so many wildfires this season.
In the novel, she uses it to enhance the action where the
fire becomes an antagonist. “I grew in a small town
on a ranch. I used the mountains because there is a sense
of suspense and danger. This is why I wrote in the book quote,
‘Blazing orang lit the ridge above her, rapidly feeding
on timber and eating its way downward. Balls of fire leapt
from tree to tree, the dry needles wicking flames into branches
and sap, setting off booming explosions in the treetops.’”
This is a gripping tale that has a message of hope. With Robo
at her side Mattie is trying to overcome her childhood demons
and learn to tear down the wall she has built, allowing Cole
and his daughters into her life.