by Elizabeth Heiter puts readers continuously on edge. The
three main characters, Colter Hayes, Rebel, and Kensie Morgan,
are engaging. The human characters, Colter and Kensie, are
damaged and vulnerable, both suffering from survivor's guilt
after losing their loved ones. Rebel, the canine-tracker dog,
is protective and supportive of the main characters. Those
who enjoy stories involving man's best friend get a bonus.
There are two books in one with a story, Six Minutes to Midnight,
by Elle James.
James' story has a female military handler working with Navy
SEALs in Afghanistan to find a traitor in the midst.
K-9 Defense has Kensie Morgan putting her life on
hold for the past fourteen years. She was supposed to watch
her younger sister, Alanna, but could not stop someone from
kidnapping her. Now a note has surfaced in the small town
of Desparre Alaska, saying she is alive along with others.
Everyone, the FBI included, thinks it's a hoax, but Kensie
is unwilling to give up. Once there, she finds that injury
retired Marine Military Policeman, Colter, and his combat
tracker dog, Rebel, are living in the same town, and pleads
for their help. Reluctantly he agrees, and their journey begins.
“I wrote Rebel as a special dog. Both she and her military
handler, Colter, are injured retired. They help to heal each
other over the course of the story. It is important to me
to show the bond between man and his dog. Rebel also helped
Kensie. Every time Kensie was upset, she would pet Rebel.
It felt natural that this dog recognized how to help Colter
with his PTSD and how to help Kensie with her sadness and
struggles. She is a mixed breed of Malinois and German Shepherd.
She has military in her blood and as part of her mindset."
is more than a journey to find her sister, but also a journey
for Colter and Kensie to regain their life back. Her life
has been defined by that one moment when she lost her sister,
while his life is defined in that one moment when Rebel's
fast reflexes resulted in saving his life while his brothers
in arms all died. Both realize that they must put aside the
guilt and loss and decide to live again.
The author explained, "Colter is traumatized by what
happened to his unit. I think he is a shell of the person
he used to be and has refused to move forward. Because he
is loyal to a fault, he feels he let his teammates down. There
is a scene in the book that shows this loyalty when he knows
he will re-injure his leg but does it anyway to save Rebel
as they come under attack. Overall, Colter is serious, steady,
supportive, but also a recluse. Kensie is also damaged. Like
Colter, she has punished herself. She is determined, sassy,
capable, and at times emotional."
Alaska setting also plays a decisive role in the book. The
harsh weather, the isolated location, and the impassable roads
in winter all tied in to make the story more thrilling. It
was a place to hide for Colter, while Kensie saw it as the
last chance to find her sister. The elements of the Alaskan
wilderness, the cold, snow, the terrain, and the unwelcoming
neighbors made the task of finding Alanna seem unsurmountable.
“I used Alaska to have Colter hideout far away from
his friends and family. There is a live and let live attitude
there. Ever since I visited, I wanted to have the setting
here. It is so beautiful and has animals, environment, weather,
and how each area is so different. It has a reputation where
people can come and disappear. Colter went there because he
is running from his issues. I also knew it would be the perfect
setting after I decided to write about a woman whose sister
went missing as a child. Because each season in Alaska is
so different, I could set each book in the series with a different
time of year."
suspenseful story features a strong female character and a
caring hero. Adding a dog to the story makes all the characters
come alive as readers see their emotional pain, fear, hope,
and a desire to heal.