The first two stories are heavy. In the first, Sergeant Emily Dahill is serving in the Middle East and is performing a last prisoner transfer prior to shipping home for retraining with the CID. But the Black Hawk chopper is shot down, everyone aboard is injured or killed, and the prisoner, a mysterious “brown-haired man” who isn’t what he seems, escapes, nearly killing Emily in the process. After being released from hospital stateside, she finds her ongoing fear of chopper flying has been exacerbated, but one lick from a warm puppy tongue calms her. A new partnership is born.
In the second story, Emily and her now adult “partner” Dakota are snowbound when a shadow moves in the night. Emily’s non-GI standard issue footwear notwithstanding, they take down the brown-haired man. But with Downs, don’t ever assume a story’s ending.
The second two stories are lighter. Emily and Dakota go camping with friends, with a practical joke and a fishing expedition ending the collection with some laughs.
These are well written and edited stories, and the first two in particular assured me Downs hasn’t lost that spine-tingling-tale touch. But I must admit to feeling a bit lost in the final stories. Downs clearly has taken to heart the old writer’s adage of “never apologize, never explain,” made famous in Larry Block’s Telling Lies for Fun & Profit, and I applaud the concept of burying the reader in the author’s world. But a bit of explanation, letting me know who’s who, would have increased my enjoyment, especially of the third tale.
That said, I love these stories. The characters are believable, three-dimensional, entertaining, and the sort of people I’d love to sit down with over coffee. Kebi from Target Identified (unfortunately no longer in print) puts in a brief appearance (still in full collie character) and Dakota, her pup, is just as delightful. (Peeing on a soldier’s gun, that’s hilarious.)
Emily Dahill, CID, part one is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble, as well as the publisher’s website. As well, Downs has given us another anthology in Emily Dahill, CID, part two, as well as full-length novellas in A Body in the Attic, A Dog Gone Christmas, and A Collie Rescue.