In Review: The Hound of Justice

An outstanding thriller that has Dr. Janet Watson trying to find Holmes and save the United States.

The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell

Published by Harper Voyager, July 30, 2019. Paperback of 326 pages at $15.99. Also available as an E-book. 

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: The illustration is by Chris McGrath with the cover design by Richard L. Aquan. Janet Watson is on the far right running for safety with Micha behind her, providing cover. On the far left a building can be seen in flames. Looking closely behind the title, taller structures can be made out that are aflame. Looks like the doctor has gotten herself in trouble again. I can’t wait! This is a cover that really stands out with its bright yellows. Note: this cover is much brighter than the image that accompanies this review as it was taken with my poor photographic skills. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “It’s been two months since Dr. Janet Watson accepted an offer from Georgetown University Hospital. The training for the new high-tech arm is taking longer than expected, however, leaving her in limbo. Meanwhile, her brilliant friend and compatriot, Sara Holmes, has been placed on leave — punishment for going rogue during their previous adventure. After an extremist faction called the Brotherhood of Redemption launches a failed assassination attempt on the president that causes mass destruction, Holmes, who is now operating in shadows, takes on the task of investigating the Brotherhood. Holmes is making progress when she abruptly disappears. When Watson receives a mysterious message from Holmes’s cousin Micha that indicates that Sara Holmes’s disappearance might be connected to the Brotherhood and to Adler Industries, Watson and Micha go on a high-stakes mission to reunite with Holmes once more. Together, Watson, Holmes, and Micha embark on a thrilling, action-packed journey through the deep South to clear Holmes’s name, thwart the Brotherhood’s next move, and most important, bring their nemesis to justice for the atrocities she’s committed in the New Civil War.” There wasn’t enough action or mystery for me in the first book, A Study In Honor, but I enjoyed the characters enough to want to read more of their exploits. This plot sounds as though it has more action, so I’m intrigued, but cautious. Overall grade: B

The characters: Dr. Janet Watson looks as though she’s doing better to all around her, but she still suffers from PTSD, losing her right arm in war, adjusting to her mechanical arm, and wondering if she deserves her position at Georgetown University Hospital. At work she feels that she’s only earned this position because she’s handicapped. Not helping is that she can’t operate until she’s cleared to do so and it’s not happening soon enough for her. She also learns her grandmother is starting to show signs of Alzheimer’s and she’s avoiding involving herself. Things begin to brighten when she finds she has feelings for two women and them seeming to reciprocate. Naturally, things don’t go smoothly in this area. Watson is stronger than she believes she is and is tested constantly. Sara Holmes is not often in the book, but her presence is constantly felt. When first encountered, at home, she’s drunk, still on forced leave and her implants not allowing her to surf the dark web. After she disappears she communicates with Watson through secret messages. She does return by the book’s climax, with a surprising turn. The reader will find her maddening, as does Watson, but absolutely addicting, just as Watson does. Micha is Holmes’s cousin and she’s in much of the book once Watson sets out to find Holmes. She knows more than she shares with Watson, but she is looking out for the doc whenever she can. Micha was a great character and I hope to read more of her exploits. As soon as Nadine Adler was brought up I knew she would be this novel’s antagonist and she is. Her presence, like Holmes, dominates the book. When she finally appears she does not disappoint. She’s an outstanding villain. There are several other antagonists, but the overwhelming fear of the dangers that could fall upon Watson when she’s in the South is unquestionably palpable. Every person could be a foe and every new town could bring death. I was wholly taken by the fear that O’Dell creates and that’s long before the climax. Overall grade: A+

The settings: This book is set in the near-future, but not an unreachable one. Technology is farther along, with Watson’s mechanical arm being the strongest example, and drones put to nefarious uses, but there are no laser guns or spaceships. Washington, D.C. seems to be a city that continues to be split with the haves and the have-nots. Watson goes into both areas, with her residence with Holmes and a bookstore visited often. Georgetown University Hospital is also a strong setting, described as one would expect a hospital and its many rooms. There are several restaurants visited with several descriptions of food served and drinks consumed; I have never felt so hungry while reading a book! Watson’s family home in the South is what one expects, but is not the backwoods locale that Watson recalls. The many different places visited in the South constantly create or build tension, for if Watson and her allies are caught they’re as good as dead. The setting of the climax is believable, though it does have some James Bond elements. Overall grade: A

The action: The terrorism that begins the book is strong. Watson is there just before the attack begins and it’s her point of view that makes it a horrific event. As she runs among the wounded to try and render aid the reader will absolutely be caught up in the terror. After this the action becomes a lot of cat and mouse with Watson working to find Holmes, followed by people she can’t see and getting notes on the down low to go to new locations. Once Watson crosses into the South the tension is constant, leading to a fiery climax that’s outstanding. I was tired when this book ended. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: There’s an explosive climax and a race to safety that’s outstanding. The book ends with one character’s fate happily revealed and the promise that there are more adventures to come for Watson. Overall grade: A+

The final line: An outstanding thriller that has Dr. Janet Watson trying to find Holmes and save the United States. Outstanding characters and superb tension make this a must read book. Watson must find Holmes after she’s disappeared after a terrorist attack from the South upon the President of the United States. I cannot wait to read more of Watson’s chronicles, because these are characters that deserve to have many, many more. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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