After his partner is killed and he gravely injured, James spends eight months in rehab before rejoining active duty, now with the Canine Unit. Maggie has also been recovering from grave injuries suffered as a Marine dog in Afghanistan during a battle that cost her the life of her previous handler. So of course Scott James picks her, in part because she's about to be turfed out of the Canine Unit training program because of her PTSD. James knows the feeling.
Crais invests a lot of time and effort in trying to capture the mindset of Maggie without slipping into first-person goofiness. He mostly succeeds -- Maggie's sections are described in third-person, but they focus on explaining how a dog thinks and interacts with its environment and with its handler.
James is a little more sketchy. We learn a lot about him on the job, but very little of his background, likes, dislikes, and so on. Maggie is really the star character here, and James could use more fleshing out.
This is a fairly smart, taut thriller that follows James and Maggie as they try to solve the mystery of who killed James' partner, and why. The investigation has stalled. And in good thriller form, James will insert himself into that investigation. As it turns out, Maggie can really help out -- even as James tries various approaches to help Maggie cope with her PTSD and the fear it provokes in the dog, especially whenever there's a loud, unexpected noise.
Maggie's nose knows, eventually -- and the bond that develops between the two. It's a nice change of pace from the Elvis & Joe Pike novels. Recommended.