Book tip: "The Good Boy"
The author has earned an Edgar award for her simmering, Chicago-based cop procedurals. "The Good Boy" expands dramatically beyond those parameters. After policeman Pete Murphy's stint as a bodyguard for a judge ends in scandal and a very tense home life, he finds himself on K-9 duty - a surprisingly rewarding gig when he bonds with his dog Butch. His 14-year-old son, Joel, also loves Butch. But when Joel sneaks out one night to follow McKenna, his troubled big sister, and takes Butch for protection, they accidentally disrupt a drug party. Butch bites a gangsta and ruins a narcotics transaction, and a friend of McKenna's is shot in the flurry of activity. Joel takes Butch on the run because post-party 'bangers are looking for them - and because Joel fears Butch will be euthanized by authorities for his attack. Pete, operating independently of the police, goes on a desperate search to find and save his son and his dog. Part crime story, part coming-of-age story and a wonderful tale about the bond between dogs and humans, "The Good Boy" is terrific.
- RICK KOSTER