Silent Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel) - Alex Kava

This is a quick "beach read" with multiple story lines connected by a large cast of characters, some of which cross over from one of the author's other series. In a nutshell, you have:

 

Ryder Creed, war vet & canine search/rescue expert, is called to the scene of a huge landslide in North Carolina. Complicating the whole mess, a secret government research facility was destroyed by the slide & no one is really sure what was stored in its labs.

Maggie O'Dell, FBI agent, is asked to discretely investigate after one of the first bodies pulled from the mud is a scientist from the facility. Closer inspection reveals he actually died from lead poisoning (aka bullet wound).

Daniel Tate, a vet with PTSD & one of the facility's "lab rats", survives the slide but is having hallucinations after being injected with an experimental substance.

Senator Ellie Delanor is worried about her chances of re-election after her rat bastard husband was arrested & charged with drug trafficking. She is currently part of a congressional investigation into the DoD's use of biologics on unknowing army personnel during the 60's & 70's.

 

There are many more peripheral characters that flesh out the plot lines. While the immediate action centres on rescue efforts around the disaster area, it's clear procedures at the research lab are tied to what the DoD has done in the past.  It's a good ol' fashioned government conspiracy & careers hang in the balance. But no one covers their ass faster than a politician & they have shadowy men at the ready to "deal" with anyone who may get a little chatty about what's found in the ruins of the landslide. In the meantime, they're chanting their favourite mantra....deny, deny, deny.

The story takes place over several days in the immediate aftermath. Creed & Maggie team up & quickly suspect they've not been given all the facts. No one will say what the lab was used for, some people have failed to show up & conversely, others have disappeared. 

It's action packed, written in short chapters that fly by. I particularly enjoyed passages dealing with the dogs & their training so Grace & Bolo became my favourite (furry) characters. It would have been a perfect "guilty pleasure" type of read except for the author's need to dilute what should have been a straight up thriller by inserting a romance into the mix. (My own conspiracy theory is authors are told they must do this to appeal to the masses.)

The result here is awkward & amusingly inappropriate, probably not what she was aiming for. Example: Maggie & Creed have spent the day slogging through mud & toxic waste while searching for bodies. Only the God of Periodic Tables knows what they've been exposed to & they just survived a suspicious "accident". As a forensic expert with the FBI, Maggie is deep in thought about...

 

a. Holy crap, did someone just try to kill us by diverting the flood waters?!

b. Why wasn't I told the (destroyed) lab contained agents of chemical warfare?

c. "Those 6 pack abs...to feel the scrape of his bristled jaw against my skin..."

 

Yep, you guessed it. The correct answer should have been "a" or "b". Everyone knows the chances of "c" happening go down significantly once your skin starts to erupt in boils following an exposure to "b".

 

And so the character of Maggie O'Dell takes a deep, deep dive in terms of credibility & almost takes the whole book with her. But it's not her fault, she's just doing what the author told her to. All I can say is if you're looking for an easy read with great action sequences & dogs (bonus points), give this a go. Just flip over the pages drenched in hormones.