Beka Cooper’s first five months of being an active Dog haven’t gone very well: she’s gone through four partners, each one worse than the one before. She tries to do her work and keep her mouth shut, but she’s becoming increasingly frustrated. It all comes to a head when her latest partner, a lazy-butt Dog, dumps her because she makes him “nervous,” and on the way to report in at the kennel, she finds out that scent-hound Achoo’s current handler has been beating the dog.
It only gets better when she and her former trainers, Goodwin and Tunstall, get caught in a riot, and Tunstall gets injured. However, there are brighter days ahead: Beka’s paired with Goodwin, and because of a counterfeiting scheme that’s trickling into the city, they are sent on their first Hunt, to a city up the river. Their job is to figure out where the counterfeit coins are coming from and stop them. Little do they know the depth of the scheme or the danger it will put them in.
Like Terrier, this book is a combination of fantasy and mystery, with a good dash of romance. Tamora Pierce maintains a good balance among all three, keeping Beka and her journey front and center of the book. I actually liked this one better than Terrier, even though it had the same problems with a very long, very slow start. However, I did find the mystery more intriguing, and the love interest, Dale, fascinating. I did feel Pierce copped out with the ending, though: I figured out who was behind the counterfeiting, but Beka got the answers only through the use of her ability to talk to ghosts. (That said, if you’ve got the ability, you should use it. Right?) And while the final chase was exciting, the climax was a bit, well, anti-climactic.
That said, it was a fun enough novel.
Rated: Mild for violence, implied sex and a few instances of mild swearing.