by Jaden Terrell
I recently finished a PI novel, Dead on the Island, by Bill Crider, an author I hadn't read before. Dead on the Island introduces private detective Truman Smith. Tru has been working as a house painter and trying to recover from the loss of his sister, Jan, whose disappearance has not only left him grieving but doubting his abilities as an investigator. When an old friend, Dino, asks for help to find a missing girl, Truman must overcome his own demons, as well as some dangerous and unsavory characters with an interest in keeping things hidden. Crider's writing is polished, and his humorous, often self-deprecating voice makes Truman seem both likeable and real.
I knew I would like Truman in the book's opening scene, which showed Tru's compassion toward a wild rat who lives near the beach where Truman goes for his morning run. Of course, I'm a sucker for animals. In Janet Evanovitch's series, Stephanie Plum's affection for her hamster, Rex, made me like her immediately, and Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware is made more appealing by his love for French bulldogs Spike and Blanche.
My detective, Jared McKean, has two horses (and later rescues a third) and shares custody of an elderly Akita. In the second book, he and his housemate inherit a papillon, a small breed Jared would not normally choose but which he comes to love.
When handled well, a relationship with a pet can add dimension and humanity to a character. Does a character with a love of animals pique your interest? Can anybody recommend some other authors who use animals to add dimension to their books?