Breaking Creed” is the first novel in a new series by best-selling author Alex Kava.  Kava introduced Ryder Creed in a previous novel in her Maggie O’Dell series. Creed, an ex-marine, suffers from PTSD.

Creed owns a business (K9 CrimeScents) with his business partner, Hannah.  He uses his dog handler skills learned as a marine in Afghanistan in his present job of training dogs. He and Hannah rescue stray and unwanted dogs and turn them into K9s capable of undertaking a variety of search-and-rescue operations.

He and his dogs made national headlines for intercepting drugs being smuggled through Atlanta’s airport. Because of this, they have captured the unwanted attention of a major drug cartel.

When the story opens, Creed (along with Grace, his beloved Jack Russell terrier) is working with the Coast Guard to search a commercial fishing vessel for drugs; however, instead of drugs, Grace discovers human cargo.  Small, frightened children, hidden beneath the fishing boat’s floorboards, are evidence of a human trafficking operation.

Matters worsen for Creed when he helps one of the cartel’s “drug mules” escape — a 14-year-old girl who reminds him of his younger sister who disappeared 15 years ago without a trace.

Meanwhile, FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell is investigating a series of vicious murders with victims not only killed but brutally tortured. Her case leads her to the drug cartel and Creed. When she discovers Creed’s name on the cartel’s hit list, Maggie and Creed join forces in a race against time to investigate who is trying to destroy him and those close to him.

In “Silent Creed,” the second novel in the series, Creed and his Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bolo, are hired for a search-and-rescue operation in North Carolina. Torrential rains have led to devastating mudslides burying everything in their paths.

Upon arriving at the scene, Creed and Bolo immediately get to work, attempting to find survivors in the face of Mother Nature’s deadly forces. As rain continues to fall, debris and toxic household substances pose hazardous for Creed and Bolo.

A top-secret government research facility is believed to be one of the casualties from the disaster. It is feared that deadly toxins from the facility may have been released during the mudslides.

Meanwhile, there are congressional hearings taking place in Washington, D.C., regarding the government’s secret experiments and use of biological and chemical weapons on military personnel and innocent civilians during the Cold War years. Project 12 and Project Shad are two such secret tests mentioned by Kava.

When dead military medics from the government facility are discovered, each with a bullet to the head, the search takes on a new twist. Questions arise about the real purpose of the mission. Is this an attempt at a cover-up by certain government

The FBI sends Maggie O’Dell to investigate the murders. She and Creed team up in order to discover what has been taking place at this research facility. A month has passed since they last worked together to break the drug cartel. Chemistry exists between the two, and both are happy to be working together again. Maggie plays a major character in the Ryder Creed series despite having her own series.

Kava provides detailed accounts of the ways in which canine handlers train air-scent and multi-task dogs to locate survivors and corpses, and distinguish smells such as viruses, cancer and different types of illegal drugs. Not only is the author a terrific storyteller, it’s obvious that she had done a lot of research for her writing.

Both novels provide great storylines with well-developed characters, both human and canine. Dog-lover or not, I think you will enjoy these brave, talented and lovable canine characters.

The descriptive settings are great, and the two action-packed thrillers are both intriguing and engrossing. Both can be read as stand-a-lone novels; however, I did read them in order and was grateful to have the back-story. I’m already looking forward to the next installment in the series. The Ryder Creed novels are available at the Joplin Public Library.

On a personal note, this is my last review. I am looking forward to retirement after working for the Joplin Public Library for 33 years.  By the time you read this review, I will have already worked my last day. Thank you for reading!