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Killing Trail

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When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Matt When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying. The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come. Fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box will love this explosive debut.


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When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Matt When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying. The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come. Fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box will love this explosive debut.

30 review for Killing Trail

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I am a simple gal that appreciates a good mystery with a decent plot, fun characters, maybe a little romantic interest. Add in a dog and I am really one happy camper. This book, the first of a series, fits the bill. Mizushima does a great job of explaining the K9 training protocol. And also explaining the bond that goes into a successful K9 partnership. The main characters are well developed. And I love that the lead detective is another woman. You have to enjoy her writing style as well, very s I am a simple gal that appreciates a good mystery with a decent plot, fun characters, maybe a little romantic interest. Add in a dog and I am really one happy camper. This book, the first of a series, fits the bill. Mizushima does a great job of explaining the K9 training protocol. And also explaining the bond that goes into a successful K9 partnership. The main characters are well developed. And I love that the lead detective is another woman. You have to enjoy her writing style as well, very sharp and intuitive. “The man could crack walnuts with those jaws of his”. I enjoyed this book from the first page. Almost didn't get dinner on the table, I got so wrapped up in reading it. This isn't serious literature, but damn, I enjoyed it! Anxious to read #2. Best news of all is that I have book 3 on my kindle as an ARC from netgalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    A very enjoyable mystery/suspense story that involved the murder of a teenage girl in the mountains outside of Timber Creek, Colorado. It featured Deputy Mattie Cobb, who was the first K-9 officer in the Timber Creek police force, and her absolutely wonderful canine partner Robo. Add to that, a great cast of characters and the interesting small-town setting of Timber Creek and it made for a thoroughly entertaining read. I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series. A very enjoyable mystery/suspense story that involved the murder of a teenage girl in the mountains outside of Timber Creek, Colorado. It featured Deputy Mattie Cobb, who was the first K-9 officer in the Timber Creek police force, and her absolutely wonderful canine partner Robo. Add to that, a great cast of characters and the interesting small-town setting of Timber Creek and it made for a thoroughly entertaining read. I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Li'l Owl

    Officer Mattie Cobb is thinking that this could be the best partner she's ever been paired up with. He's dark, handsome, muscular, strong, and he's the only one who can out run her in cross country running. His name is Robo. He's a German Shepherd and he's Mattie's new K-9 partner. Together they've just finished three months of training and it's their first day on the job when Mattie gets a call on the radio to meet the Sheriff McCoy at a cabin in the mountains outside of her small hometown of T Officer Mattie Cobb is thinking that this could be the best partner she's ever been paired up with. He's dark, handsome, muscular, strong, and he's the only one who can out run her in cross country running. His name is Robo. He's a German Shepherd and he's Mattie's new K-9 partner. Together they've just finished three months of training and it's their first day on the job when Mattie gets a call on the radio to meet the Sheriff McCoy at a cabin in the mountains outside of her small hometown of Timber Creek, Colorado. When Robo leads her to an injured dog who's been shot then they discover that the dog is standing guard over a young girl. And she's dead. Murdered. There has been an increase of drugs throughout the town and now they wonder if the teenager was part of it and it cost her her life. First they'll have to identify her. Mattie takes the injured dog to the local veterinarian Dr. Cole Walker who recognizes the dog as belonging to a friend of his daughter's, Grace Hartman. Cole is adamant that Grace would never have anything to do with drugs. Everyone is hoping that Cole's daughter Angela can shed some light on what could have led to the murder of her friend Grace. As the investigation continues Mattie and Robo find themselves in danger. If Mattie is going to uncover the truth she's going to have to trust Robo but if she misunderstands the signals from her new K-9 partner it could cost her and her new partner their lives. Killing Trail is the first book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima. In short, I enjoyed it very much! I'm an animal lover and I'm always excited to read mysteries that involve K-9 partners but I always wonder how accurate the search and/or rescue work with the dogs will be. I am very happy to report that I needn't have worried. Margaret did her research and portrayed Maggie and Robo based on real life K-9 work. This is a gripping, intriguing, and compelling novel from cover to cover and I was reluctant to put it down! I already have the next two books in this series sitting in my short stack ready to be read, with book four on my wish list. Highly recommended especially if you love mystery thrillers and K-9 partners!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    You'd think the murder of a well liked high school girl would inspire more intensity but this whole book felt, well, generic - from the characters to the dialogue to the mystery itself. I'm not one who ever tries to solve a murder mystery before the protagonist does but in this case the answer was so obvious that I knew the guilty party the second the character was introduced. The supposed red herrings were also equally obvious and uninspired. As for the protagonist, well there are actually two You'd think the murder of a well liked high school girl would inspire more intensity but this whole book felt, well, generic - from the characters to the dialogue to the mystery itself. I'm not one who ever tries to solve a murder mystery before the protagonist does but in this case the answer was so obvious that I knew the guilty party the second the character was introduced. The supposed red herrings were also equally obvious and uninspired. As for the protagonist, well there are actually two - the first K9 unit in Timber Creek, Colorado's small police force. Robo, the canine half of the K9 team is the real star. By contrast his human partner, Deputy Mattie Cobb, always seems to either misread signs or else misses them altogether. Without Robo I fear she'd only be a mediocre deputy at best. All in all, there wasn't anything here to motivate me to read more of this series, not with a TBR list a mile long.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I had a hard time putting this, the first in the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, down. I am absolutely in love with Robo, the German Shepard K-9 who is the "star" of the show. There is a good story here and I can't wait to see where future stories in this series lead us. I had a hard time putting this, the first in the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, down. I am absolutely in love with Robo, the German Shepard K-9 who is the "star" of the show. There is a good story here and I can't wait to see where future stories in this series lead us.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yodamom

    A little slow to get going but I enjoyed the characters enough to get past book one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    Officer Mattie Cobb has a new partner: K-9 Officer Robo. They have just completed their training at the academy and returned to Timber Creek, CO. As she learns to apply what she learned during training and to trust her dog, the two of them are pulled into a case where the dog could be key: The death of a local teenager. As the case unfolds, it becomes evident that someone doesn't want Robo on the case. But Mattie and her partner are determined to sniff out the killer. The plot is a little bit pr Officer Mattie Cobb has a new partner: K-9 Officer Robo. They have just completed their training at the academy and returned to Timber Creek, CO. As she learns to apply what she learned during training and to trust her dog, the two of them are pulled into a case where the dog could be key: The death of a local teenager. As the case unfolds, it becomes evident that someone doesn't want Robo on the case. But Mattie and her partner are determined to sniff out the killer. The plot is a little bit predictable in this first book in the Timber Creek K-9 series, but still immensely enjoyable. There is great suspense and character development. The best part is the developing working relationship between Robo and Mattie. Robo is NOT a pet dog....he is an intelligent, highly trained, police dog. Mattie learns to trust the dog above all else and Robo learns how to give the correct signals to his partner so she knows what he's telling her. I didn't know much about what canine officers do before reading this book. Not sure how accurate it is, but I found it interesting and exciting! I have read one book in this series previously. I jumped in at Book 4 and read it without any prior knowledge of the series. Before diving into the newest book, Tracking Game, that comes out in November 2019, I thought it would be best to back up and read the series from the start. This first book is a great introduction to Mattie, Robo, local veterinarian Cole Walker and his family, plus the key characters from the Timber Creek police force. It isn't necessary to start at book one. I enjoyed the 4th book when I read it. But to get all the character and relationship developments, it's best to read the books in order. I can only imagine the difficulties of being a K-9 Officer in an area with such rough terrain. Forest, mountains, backwoods trails....CO must be a real challenge! Where I live in NC there is dense forest and the Blue Ridge, but the elevations are much lower than the Rockies. All that Robo and Mattie go through makes for a very suspenseful, exciting story! With all the place and character development necessary to start out a series like this, I can understand why the mystery portion is a bit predictable. Plus, in real life, cases don't often have mysterious exciting twists every few chapters. I liked a more realistic touch this time. Nicely done! Very, very enjoyable book! Good boy, Robo! :) Very enjoyable series! I listened to the audio book version of this story. My local library's digital site has the whole series on audio! The audio, narrated by Nancy Wu, is just shy of 9.5 hours long. Wu gives a great performance. Her reading and acting skills are quite good! This is the first audio book I have listened to with Wu narrating. I will gladly listen to more of her performances! On to book 2 -- it's already loaded on my phone! (Love, love, love my library's digital site!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    I liked this book. It wasn’t really very gripping but it was an easy to read mystery with good characters. I liked the dog of course! This is a good book for people who don’t want on-screen violence or sex.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    Timber Creek Sheriff Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb has a new partner. “Born in Russia, he was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned.” In fact, the new partner “was the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race.” Mattie’s new partner is Robo. A German shepherd. Together, they form the first K-9 unit ever mobilized in the small fictional Colorado town of Timber Creek. Robo is new but Mattie knows the town—she Timber Creek Sheriff Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb has a new partner. “Born in Russia, he was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned.” In fact, the new partner “was the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race.” Mattie’s new partner is Robo. A German shepherd. Together, they form the first K-9 unit ever mobilized in the small fictional Colorado town of Timber Creek. Robo is new but Mattie knows the town—she spent her childhood there, in foster care. She approaches friendships tentatively and with trepidation. She likes “prickly things” like the yucca and cholla in her backyard. She’s cool to the touch, unexcitable too. Robo, of course, knows of no such human concerns and becomes Mattie’s dependable nose on the clue-finding trail. The story starts with a bang as Robo discovers a wounded fellow canine guarding the dead body of a teenage girl. It’s the local vet, Cole Walker, who recognizes the wounded dog and then the dog, well, expels several white balloons that contain a substance like “sand or powder.” Mattie’s upbringing gives her weight and a solid grounded feeling. She is no “golly gee” cozy mystery heroine. Even though we have a rough idea where this story is headed from early on, Margaret Mizushima portrays the Cobb-Robo relationship with robust dynamics. Robo fills certain gaps in Mattie’s life (including her dreams) and it’s the fine balance between her inquisitiveness and his tracking skills that give Killing Trail its drive. You will learn a few things about training police dogs—and it’s interesting. Note that despite the gritty-sounding title, this is a fairly genteel story. I'd give it a PG rating. The next book in the series is due in September of 2016 and all readers of this one will certainly hope that Mattie adds a human or two to those she’s willing to trust beyond her dependable dog. Margaret is a fellow Colorado mystery writer, but I stand by my opinion. For a Q & A with Margaret Mizushima: https://markhstevens.wordpress.com/20...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    Killing Trail is the first book in an extremely promising new series. Mattie Cobb is a fascinating character whose childhood in the foster care system gives her a rapport with children that sometimes leads her to err in the young ones' favor. Mattie is smart and brave, a loner who believes in the value of hard work. Her growing bond with Robo-- which is one of the strongest elements in this book-- has the added bonus of improving her social skills with her fellow humans. Veterinarian Cole Walker Killing Trail is the first book in an extremely promising new series. Mattie Cobb is a fascinating character whose childhood in the foster care system gives her a rapport with children that sometimes leads her to err in the young ones' favor. Mattie is smart and brave, a loner who believes in the value of hard work. Her growing bond with Robo-- which is one of the strongest elements in this book-- has the added bonus of improving her social skills with her fellow humans. Veterinarian Cole Walker is finding it difficult to heal from his wife's desertion, which leaves him as the sole parent to their two young daughters. He may be a potential love interest for Mattie, but he does have problems he must deal with. Mizushima has created two-- make that three with Robo-- very strong characters for her series. Mizushima has also written some first-rate action sequences in Killing Trail, and the explanations of the training and procedures required for working with police dogs is fascinating. I found myself comparing it favorably to Robert Crais's Suspect as a matter of fact. As much as I enjoyed this book, it's not without a rookie problem or two. The writing is a touch amateurish. As the K-9 training and work procedures are explained, these feel more like lessons instead of flowing smoothly as part of the narrative. Also, many of the clues are too obviously planted. But you know what? Things like this are easy for me to overlook because Mizushima nails her characters and the action in her engrossing story. These slightly rough edges can be knocked off by the second book, and speaking of that second book-- bring it on! I want more Mattie and Robo!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tulay

    Great story. Really enjoyed this book, good start to series. Story is about the small town in Colorado, small but very capable officers. Maggie and her partner Robo joined them three months ago, she had a very painful life growing in this town. Abusive father's beatings made her call the police, he went to jail and mother left her and her brother. They grow up in foster homes. You'll know most everything about Maggie character, she hasn't seen her brother for years and wants to find her mother. M Great story. Really enjoyed this book, good start to series. Story is about the small town in Colorado, small but very capable officers. Maggie and her partner Robo joined them three months ago, she had a very painful life growing in this town. Abusive father's beatings made her call the police, he went to jail and mother left her and her brother. They grow up in foster homes. You'll know most everything about Maggie character, she hasn't seen her brother for years and wants to find her mother. Murders and drugs puts everyone on edge, but early in the story Robo let me know who was behind all this. Didn't like the very detailed description of surgery. Feel good story, do recommend to everybody and will be reading the next book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann Jones

    The Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima is a well written story about police officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo. Follow Mattie and her trusted partner Robo as they both learn to depend on and defend one another. Just enough twists and turns to keep me captivated! Will be reading more in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Robison

    The writing is workmanlike, whodunnit is easy to figure out early on, the characters are all regular people and thus not especially memorable, and the showdown in an abandoned mine was very “Scooby-Doo” — and yet I liked this. It’s probably because there’s not only a strong female lead (a sheriff’s deputy who is a K9 handler) but a number of strong women characters; the knowledge of veterinary work, dog training and law enforcement protocol is spot-on; and there’s a good heart and moral compass The writing is workmanlike, whodunnit is easy to figure out early on, the characters are all regular people and thus not especially memorable, and the showdown in an abandoned mine was very “Scooby-Doo” — and yet I liked this. It’s probably because there’s not only a strong female lead (a sheriff’s deputy who is a K9 handler) but a number of strong women characters; the knowledge of veterinary work, dog training and law enforcement protocol is spot-on; and there’s a good heart and moral compass guiding everything. Plus a dog is a central focus yet always remains a dog and is not anthropomorphized like in other canine crime books. In short, I respect the author and will follow her to the next book in the series. Bechdel test: Pass. Grade: B+

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Good. Liked the characters. Will read another. I did like the other K9 series I started more but that I’m still waiting for next book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Office Mattie has lived in Timber creek all her life and has just completed training with a K-9 dog training. Her first case is a girl that has been shot and buried. There is also a drug problem in her town and she hopes to find the killer and stop the drug flow. A 6 year old shoplifter leads her to a family and she misreads the situation because of her past family life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erth

    A great start to what looks like a great series. Can't wait to read book two. A great start to what looks like a great series. Can't wait to read book two.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I really enjoyed Mrs. Mizushima’s introduction to Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner, Robo, and the town of Timber Creek, Colorado. The author lives in that state and assists her husband with their veterinary clinic. Her experience supplied necessary facts that only enhanced the importance of dogs used by law enforcement. If you like a good small-town mystery and animals, this is the story for you. ~~~~~ Mattie grew up in Timber Creek as a foster child. She had a rough childhood before joining M I really enjoyed Mrs. Mizushima’s introduction to Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner, Robo, and the town of Timber Creek, Colorado. The author lives in that state and assists her husband with their veterinary clinic. Her experience supplied necessary facts that only enhanced the importance of dogs used by law enforcement. If you like a good small-town mystery and animals, this is the story for you. ~~~~~ Mattie grew up in Timber Creek as a foster child. She had a rough childhood before joining Mama T’s family. With an abundant amount of love, she was steered in the right direction and became a deputy. It grounded her and gave her purpose. Recently, she passed rigorous tests with her new service dog, Robo. They became Timber Creek’s first K-9 unit. A teenager was murdered and left for dead in the mountainous terrain. The girl’s dog, Belle, brought her to the attention of Robo and Mattie. A local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his daughters were soon involved. The sheriff, a detective and a smattering of co-workers added a good amount of interest to the story. *I hope to read more of Mattie and Robo in the near future.*

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    Deputy Mattie Cobb and her new partner K-9 Robo are called in to search by a forest ranger who noticed something suspicious. Suspecting drugs which have started to be a problem in her small Colorado town, Mattie is surprised when Robo finds the body of a young girl being guarded by her wounded dog. Mattie brings the dog to local veterinarian Cole Walker for treatment. Cole recognizes the dog because it is owned by one of his daughter's friends. Cole is overworked and stressed because his final di Deputy Mattie Cobb and her new partner K-9 Robo are called in to search by a forest ranger who noticed something suspicious. Suspecting drugs which have started to be a problem in her small Colorado town, Mattie is surprised when Robo finds the body of a young girl being guarded by her wounded dog. Mattie brings the dog to local veterinarian Cole Walker for treatment. Cole recognizes the dog because it is owned by one of his daughter's friends. Cole is overworked and stressed because his final divorce papers have just arrived and he is wondering how to tell his daughters and how he is going to take care of them alone. Mattie and Robo are soon deep into investigating the girl's death and trying to find out who is bringing drugs into town. Mattie is also learning to trust her new partner but trust doesn't come easy to her. She was an abused child who turned in her father to the police and then spent years in foster care. Luckily her last foster home was a good one and she still has a relationship with her foster mother. Beyond that, she is essentially friendless because of her trust issues. I liked the mystery. I was sidetracked, as Mattie was, by the red herring suspect. However, I also figured out who the villain had to be from clues the author gave. I enjoyed learning more about K-9 officers and enjoyed Robo. I will be eager to read more stories about Mattie and her K-9 partner Robo.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    New series for this author and I believe she has pulled it off brilliantly. The character of Mattie is a very strong figure without being obnoxious or feeling that she had something to prove as some female law enforcement characters do. The author also did a good job in articulating the capabilities of a trained police dog. You gotta love a good dog character and Robo is perfect. This is certainly a very good first effort for Margaret Mizushima. I look forward to meeting Mattie and Robo again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Excellent debut novel!!! Well researched, realistic actions and scenes. The first book of this series is every bit as good, if not better than some already established authors. I am glad I purchased this copy so I can share it. Looking forward to the next in her series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Guerrero

    I was pleasantly surprised. I really did enjoy this book. First time I read from this author. I am anxious to read the next one of the series.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    4.5 stars With Killing Trail, Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series is off to strong beginning. Starring an intrepid and appealing crime fighting duo, this debut police procedural is a suspense-laden murder mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre. Deputy Mattie Cobb's first case with her new K-9 partner, Robo, is particularly heart wrenching. The teenage victim, Grace Hartman, is well-liked and has never been in trouble, leaving everyone mystified as to why anyone would 4.5 stars With Killing Trail, Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series is off to strong beginning. Starring an intrepid and appealing crime fighting duo, this debut police procedural is a suspense-laden murder mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre. Deputy Mattie Cobb's first case with her new K-9 partner, Robo, is particularly heart wrenching. The teenage victim, Grace Hartman, is well-liked and has never been in trouble, leaving everyone mystified as to why anyone would want to kill her. While she has just completed twelve weeks of training as a K-9 handler, Mattie is a veteran of the small town police department and she is determined to bring Grace's killer to justice. Mattie is an excellent police officer who is more comfortable with murder than her emotions. She is bit prickly and although she is immensely likable, she tends to be a loner. In her early thirties, Mattie relates well to children but she is reluctant to form friendships and she shies away from romantic entanglements. Growing up in a series of foster homes, she went through a rebellious period as a teen but she managed to turn her life before getting into too much trouble. No matter how far she has come from her troubled childhood, Mattie still carries residual guilt for her role in the events that tore her family apart. The first stop on Mattie's investigation is local veterinarian Cole Walker. Grace's dog, Belle, was discovered alongside her body and the canine is in need of treatment for a bullet wound in her leg. While caring for her, Cole makes a startling discovery about Belle that points the investigation in a very unexpected direction. This information coupled with a vital clue from Cole's oldest daughter, Angela, leads Mattie to search for Mike Chadron, a local dog breeder who has been missing since Grace's body was discovered. What, if anything, does Mike have to do with Grace's murder? Wanting the answer to this question, Mattie's search for the missing man leads to yet another dead body. The investigation takes a few more unexpected twists as she follows the evidence and her suspicions turn to someone much closer to home. Killing Trail is a spellbinding police procedural with a marvelous cast of eclectic yet engaging characters. The novel is fast-paced with a unique and intriguing mystery. The investigation is quite interesting and Margaret Mizushima skillfully keeps readers guessing whodunit through a series of misdirects and a very clever red herring. An excellent debut that will leave fans impatiently awaiting the next installment of the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Real review to come when it's not 3:30am! Later: This is a 5-star debut, easily. I did guess the killer pretty early on, and the ending did seem to come on rather quickly and felt a tad rushed, but neither of these details outweigh the major plusses of this book. So many first books are so rough - the writing isn't as good as it could be (or at all), the plot is predictable, the characters flat - all the usual first-time author issues. When I'm reading a debut, I keep that stuff in mind, because Real review to come when it's not 3:30am! Later: This is a 5-star debut, easily. I did guess the killer pretty early on, and the ending did seem to come on rather quickly and felt a tad rushed, but neither of these details outweigh the major plusses of this book. So many first books are so rough - the writing isn't as good as it could be (or at all), the plot is predictable, the characters flat - all the usual first-time author issues. When I'm reading a debut, I keep that stuff in mind, because the first book is usually pretty rocky, but a good writer will get it worked out by the 2nd or 3rd installment and we're smooth sailing. Margaret Mizushima suffers from very little of those missteps. She's a pro right out of the gate. The writing is good (from a technical perspective), the dialogue believable, the story interesting, the mystery compelling, the characters are fully-realized beings acting in realistic accord with who they are. The characters are just so well done - revealed in tantalizing bits and pieces. The dog stuff is fascinating, totally realistic, and factually correct. I love that the "sidekick" is a veterinarian, and a single dad at that! The main character is very likable and the author has done a fantastic job of showing the character's presentation to the world versus how she is inside herself, and how those two don't always match up, and the consternation that causes the character. That's some skillful characterize right there, folks. In addition, right up front the author tells us what the main character (Mattie) wants more than anything, which is "to be found." By the end of the book you get the impression that Mattie wants more than merely "to be found," or perhaps that "being found" means different things in different circumstances. Again, skillful characterization. I noticed only one boo-boo which should have been caught by editing: near the end, Robo's muzzle is removed twice within the same 30 seconds, and by two different people. That's the only thing I caught, though. It was a highly enjoyable read and I cannot WAIT for more books in this series. I absolutely will read every one of them. Mattie and Robo make a terrific team, and the vet is a neat guy. The other cops, Brody and Johnson, and Sheriff McCoy all have room to grow and develop, and I'm so excited to see how they do. I stayed up til 3:30 one night to finish the book, so I definitely recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    S.W. Hubbard

    Well, I liked the dog. Having once attended a Citizens Police Academy and seen a police K-9 in action, I did appreciate the realistic details of Robo, the police dog. Alas, the human characters were not as well developed, and their motivations left a lot to be desired. The bad guy was obvious from the beginning, and there were precious few red herrings to keep the reader guessing. Maybe the series gets better, but I'm not that tempted to continue. Well, I liked the dog. Having once attended a Citizens Police Academy and seen a police K-9 in action, I did appreciate the realistic details of Robo, the police dog. Alas, the human characters were not as well developed, and their motivations left a lot to be desired. The bad guy was obvious from the beginning, and there were precious few red herrings to keep the reader guessing. Maybe the series gets better, but I'm not that tempted to continue.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    I love dogs. In fact, I am surrounded by my own three as I write this. I'm always happy when a main character has a special bond with his/her dog, and this book shines in that aspect. Mattie had to overcome a lot of challenges in her life. Consequently, she is a loner and tends not to trust easily, if at all. Her partnership with Robo teaches her about trust in unexpected ways. The author clearly did her research on police dogs. The details of Mattie working the case with Robo, and Robo's respon I love dogs. In fact, I am surrounded by my own three as I write this. I'm always happy when a main character has a special bond with his/her dog, and this book shines in that aspect. Mattie had to overcome a lot of challenges in her life. Consequently, she is a loner and tends not to trust easily, if at all. Her partnership with Robo teaches her about trust in unexpected ways. The author clearly did her research on police dogs. The details of Mattie working the case with Robo, and Robo's responses, add much realism to the story. I enjoyed the small town setting, and the way people's lives intertwined. This was handled well, with people feeding the gossip vine and often knowing one another's business. However, this also made it more of a stretch to believe that a major drug trade could be anonymously thriving within the community. The pace was a little slow for me, particularly in the first half of the book. I also thought the 'whodunit' aspect was too obvious. Still, I enjoyed the offshoots of the plot and how all the pieces came together. This book is a great start to the series. I'm looking forward to more escapades with Robo. *I was provided with a copy by the publisher, via Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest review.*

  26. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    A first class police procedure featuring a K- 9 dog. Drugs are making a headway into the small town of Timber Creek, Colorado. Money was raised to add a K-9 dog to the police. A contest of physical strength among the focus to see who would be his handler. Mattie Cobb is nervous as this is Kobo, the German shepherd she trained for 14 weeks the first case. A large pool of blood found in a hunting cabin. Much to her dismay, Kobo wants to go off the grid. Mattie follows Kobo and he finds another dog A first class police procedure featuring a K- 9 dog. Drugs are making a headway into the small town of Timber Creek, Colorado. Money was raised to add a K-9 dog to the police. A contest of physical strength among the focus to see who would be his handler. Mattie Cobb is nervous as this is Kobo, the German shepherd she trained for 14 weeks the first case. A large pool of blood found in a hunting cabin. Much to her dismay, Kobo wants to go off the grid. Mattie follows Kobo and he finds another dog, Belle. It was all Mattie could do to prevent a dog fight. When she gets control again, she finds Belle has dug up the body of a dead girl and was protecting her. The focus now was to identify the girl. Mattie meets the local veterinarian and his family. The details of the veterinarian treatment of the dog are fascinating and detailed. The dog was being used as a 'mule' to transport drugs. The characters are developing in depth, descriptions accurate and the trading and how a K-9 works are fantastic. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aisling

    This was a great read about a young cop who just got certified to work with a canine partner. I loved all the dog stuff and I thought the heroine was interesting but the author did not go overboard with her background. It made me want to read more in the series to find out more about her brother, mother, if anything will happen with her love life. I thought the mystery was really well done with just enough clues (always pay attention to Robo!) to make it fair. I did sort of suspect the guilty par This was a great read about a young cop who just got certified to work with a canine partner. I loved all the dog stuff and I thought the heroine was interesting but the author did not go overboard with her background. It made me want to read more in the series to find out more about her brother, mother, if anything will happen with her love life. I thought the mystery was really well done with just enough clues (always pay attention to Robo!) to make it fair. I did sort of suspect the guilty party but I was completely fooled by the main red herring right up until the climactic scene where he shows up --I thought he was going to reveal himself as an accomplice and try to help the known guilty one escape (yup, little bit of tension there!) I'm really impressed this was the author's debut book. It really read as a much more seasoned mystery writer. I will definitely read more. Highly recommend to anyone interested in K-9's, women cops, Colorado or just a fast paced well written mystery. This was excellent.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui

    I don't often read debut novels, but Margaret Mizushima's "Killing Trail" (Crooked Lane 2015), set in rural Colorado, main character a K-9 officer, and sufficient murder and mayhem for my thriller appetite, caught my attention. It only added to my excitement that it's recommended for those who love CJ Box (writes the Joe Pickett series based in the backwoods of Wyoming). "Killing Trail" is the story of a young officer, Mattie Cobb, and her K-9 partner, Robo. They are both new to their jobs, just I don't often read debut novels, but Margaret Mizushima's "Killing Trail" (Crooked Lane 2015), set in rural Colorado, main character a K-9 officer, and sufficient murder and mayhem for my thriller appetite, caught my attention. It only added to my excitement that it's recommended for those who love CJ Box (writes the Joe Pickett series based in the backwoods of Wyoming). "Killing Trail" is the story of a young officer, Mattie Cobb, and her K-9 partner, Robo. They are both new to their jobs, just out of the training academy, and faced with what turns out to be one of the biggest cases her small town of Timber Creek has ever faced. While Mattie tries to unravel the clues, she fights internal battles against her inability to trust rooted in her foster care upbringing. The plot's pace is just north of fast enough: Nothing gets boring, but I have time to breath. The characters are all interesting, with hints at what they will become as the series develops. Mizushima's voice sounds a lot like Tony Hillerman's daughter Anne (who took over writing her father's mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Chee and Leaphorn) with simple sentences and never a word I needed a dictionary to decode. Sometimes the dialogue goes one sentence too far, dipping into actual conversation rather than the truncated approach used in novels, but it does flesh out the characters well as moral, honest, and hard-working. I should disclose: Any story starring a dog starts with five stars from me. My only concern will be if the human parts detract from what otherwise would be a great story. Robert Crais set the bar high with Maggie in "Suspect" (the sequel is due out any day--I can't wait). This book lost one star only because the author is still figuring out who she is and how she writes. Overall a great start and I'll definitely read more of this series.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    "Killing Trail" is a K9-detective mystery. Officer Mattie Cobb is learning to trust her dog and pick up on what he's telling her. Since she's going to run the local high school's anti-drug program, she also has to move beyond her past as a foster kid and rebellious teenager. Cole Walker is very busy with his veterinarian practice which has led to his wife leaving him and their daughters. Add to that pain, his teenage daughter's friend has been murdered. He struggles to be there for his daughters "Killing Trail" is a K9-detective mystery. Officer Mattie Cobb is learning to trust her dog and pick up on what he's telling her. Since she's going to run the local high school's anti-drug program, she also has to move beyond her past as a foster kid and rebellious teenager. Cole Walker is very busy with his veterinarian practice which has led to his wife leaving him and their daughters. Add to that pain, his teenage daughter's friend has been murdered. He struggles to be there for his daughters while dealing with his own pain. The characters were realistic and likable. Robo is a well-trained working dog who loves his job, so don't expect a "cutesy dog." The author clearly put a lot of effort into getting the K9 and vet parts correct. These details made the story feel real without slowing the pace. The crime was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. About halfway through, I had two strong suspects. Mattie soon picked up on the more obvious one. I could understand why she didn't suspect the other one despite various clues also pointing that way. The story keep my interest to the exciting, action-packed end as I wanted to see how it all played out. There were no sex scenes. The was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, interesting story. I received this review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Westminster Library

    In this debut novel by this Colorado author, Margaret Mizushima begins the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series. Officer Mattie Cobb and her new K-9 partner, Robo, start the story by discovering a dead teenage body. We learn a great deal about the law enforcement team in this small town. A great mystery with a mix of drugs, murder, and a troubled family makes this an exciting read. This reminds me of: Detective Gemma Monroe’s series, Inherit the Bones and A Season of Lies by Emily Littlejohn. Quotes I In this debut novel by this Colorado author, Margaret Mizushima begins the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series. Officer Mattie Cobb and her new K-9 partner, Robo, start the story by discovering a dead teenage body. We learn a great deal about the law enforcement team in this small town. A great mystery with a mix of drugs, murder, and a troubled family makes this an exciting read. This reminds me of: Detective Gemma Monroe’s series, Inherit the Bones and A Season of Lies by Emily Littlejohn. Quotes I liked from this book: “These kids are all I have,” he [Cole Walker speaking to Officer Cobb] said. “I appreciate your concern for their safety. And I appreciate what you’re doing to preserve this community and our way of life.” Find Killing Trail at the Westminster Public Library.

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