Dogs and humans trying to stop high-tech data thieves find themselves facing a genocidal religious cult in this debut futuristic novel.
When Amy Callahan, an employee of the rescue agency Locate and Investigate, gets the call to find a missing robot scientist, it seems like just another day on the job. With a team of dogs who are empaths like herself, Amy and her canine companion, Lars, set out on the hunt and find their quarry quickly. But when the disoriented man turns out to be the victim not only of kidnapping, but also of intentional nanobot contamination, LAI investigators and their trusted animal sidekicks are drawn into an increasingly dangerous inquiry. In a society where cars and planes operate themselves and computer keyboards and revving engines are relics of the past, humans and dogs are beginning to forge telepathic communication through the “Canine Language Project.” Amy and the brave, intelligent kelpie/shepherd mix Lars work side by side with other human and dog partners, such as Gimli, a burger-loving Corgi who specializes in placing surveillance bugs in delicate places. On the trail of the data thieves who infected two robotics experts with deadly nanobots, Amy and Lars go on an undercover mission to investigate a megalomaniacal religious leader who seeks domination on Earth and beyond. Clary’s vision of the future is grounded in the emerging field of nanorobotics and the fanciful concept of dog-human communication. This sci-fi series opener is believable and intriguing; readers may wonder, for example, if Amy’s helpful “olfactory reflectometer” is a real or visionary investigative tool. The author also does a satisfying job of creating a convincing portrait of canine consciousness, with exchanges that expand the animal-human relationship while preserving an essential dogness in the pooches’ personalities. Issues like the ethics and legalities of using dog evidence inject a note of realism into a story that might otherwise seem far-fetched. The plot, which combines technology with religious zealotry, is pleasurably creepy, although the division of the book into 69 short chapters, with such prosaic titles as “Amy Talks with John” and “Tomas and Adam Talk,” seems choppy and baffling.
A sci-fi mystery tackled in style by a feisty canine-human detective team.