In the first of a thrilling new series, FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and Hawk, her loyal search-and-rescue Labrador, must race against time as they zero in on one of the deadliest killers in the country . . .
Meg and Hawk are part of the FBI’s elite K-9 unit. Hawk can sniff out bodies anywhere—living or dead. When a bomb rips apart a government building in Washington D.C., it takes all of the team’s extensive search-and-rescue training to locate and save the workers and visitors buried beneath the rubble.
But even as the duo are hailed as heroes, a bomber remains at large, striking terror in a widening spiral of unpredictability. As more bombs are detonated and the body count escalates, Meg and Hawk are assigned to a task force dedicated to stopping the unseen killer. It will come down to a battle of wits and survival skills between Meg, Hawk, and the bomber they’re tracking to rescue a nation from the brink of chaos.
“Tense and exciting, Sara Driscoll has created a new power couple, Meg and her FBI K-9, Hawk.”
—Leo J. Maloney, author of Arch Enemy
About the Author
Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Jen is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Ann lives in central Texas with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work. You can follow the latest news on the FBI K-9 Mysteries at www.saradriscollauthor.com.
Read an Excerpt
Tracking Canine: A search dog that will follow the ground scent of a person who has passed through an area where the dog is searching.
Tuesday, April 11, 8:02 AM Monocacy National Battlefield Monocacy, Maryland
The world whipped by in a blur of color.
The nearly translucent green of new spring lined the path. Sunlight trickled through the canopy, dappling the barely visible path beneath her pounding feet, while bursts of blue and pink flowers spotted the underbrush. To her right, the Monocacy River shimmered in the sun, water tumbling over shallow rapids as it ran toward the Potomac.
Megan Jennings ignored the water squelching noisily in her soggy hiking boots and focused instead on the black Labrador running ahead. Hawk ran with his nose skimming the ground, his thick tail held stiff and high. The chase was on, and he was in his element. Pausing briefly, he pushed through the broken underbrush, following a path that meandered through the trees, a path that nearly wasn't, unless you knew what to look for.
They were looking for a killer.
Meg swallowed hard, thinking of the body she'd left behind only minutes before with the crime scene techs. Partially buried in the soft river mud, the girl had been young, maybe only thirteen or fourteen. All fair hair and gangly limbs, still with that layer of baby fat all teenage girls swear they'll never lose, but often do in a rush of maturity that leaves them with curves in all the right places. Sadly, this girl would never reach that age.
Cases involving children were the worst. In all her time doing scent identification and tracking, it was the children — missing, or worse, dead — that tore at Meg the most. All that promise, cut brutally short; a life gone in an instant of misadventure or cruelty.
Her gaze flicked across the wide expanse of the Monocacy. About a hundred feet upstream, the navy of Brian's standard-issue FBI windbreaker was barely visible through the trees where he jogged behind his German shepherd, Lacey.
The call to the FBI K-9 unit had come at just the right time, Meg reflected. In fact, it was only the day before that Brian had perched on the corner of her desk while she was finalizing the report from her last case. Playing with anything he could lay hands on and generally interrupting her concentration, he'd complained for ten solid minutes that Lacey was bored. She cast a glance once again across the river at Brian's bobbing head. Lacey wasn't bored. He was bored. More than that, he needed a fix. Search and rescue was their addiction, and saving lives their drug of choice. She understood his pain — she also wanted to be out there. Besides, when cases followed in quick succession, it kept the dogs on their game.
So when a body was discovered on federal land by a predawn dog walker, both teams had been raring to go. Not their case of choice — no life would be saved here — but a part of their job. The body's location away from any convenient place to park a car, paired with faint boot prints leading into and away from the scene, gave the investigating agents hope that the killer had come and gone on foot, a perfect scenario for overland tracking. Lacey and Hawk were trained search and rescue dogs, but excelled equally at the kind of scent work required to track both criminal suspects and lost innocents.
The dogs executed a spiral search originating at the center of the scene before locating the outbound scent trail. Meg and Brian unleashed their dogs and the animals didn't hesitate. To their surprise, Lacey immediately trotted east down the wide dirt path hugging the river's edge, while Hawk headed toward the muddy bank. Without pausing, he plunged into the rocky rapids separating the south bank from the diminutive island that obstructed most of the channel under the I-270 bridge. Meg met Brian's eyes briefly before jumping knee deep into the water after her dog. They knew exactly what this meant: either they had two suspects on their hands who had fled in different directions, or a single perp had returned using a different path to revisit his kill.
The frigid spring water was a shock to Meg's system, and the murky, rocky bottom was treacherous underfoot, but she gamely waded after her dog. Hawk nimbly sprang forward, a water dog naturally at home in his surroundings. He scrambled onto the opposite shore, stopping briefly for an enthusiastic shake.
Meg raised a hand to shield her face from flying droplets as she clambered out onto dry land. She only had a few seconds to catch her breath, lost during the icy plunge, before Hawk had the scent and was off.
They'd followed the scent ever since, hugging the riverbank. But now Hawk abruptly stopped, giving his characteristic whine indicating he'd lost the trail. Meg jogged up behind him, hanging back a few feet to give him room to work. "Hawk, find it," she encouraged. "Find it."
Huge soulful brown eyes gazed up at her — a bond reestablished, a purpose cemented — then he started rooting through the underbrush surrounding a towering white sycamore, its tiny yellowish-green flowers draping in delicate chains through young leaves. Suddenly his body stiffened as he focused on an area to the left of the path, leading away from the river. Meg balanced on the balls of her feet. She knew this moment: this was when Hawk would take off in a leap of renewed energy on a fresh path and she'd have to strain to keep up.
As expected, Hawk bounded straight up the hill, tearing into a newly plowed field. Loose dirt slipping beneath her hiking boots, Meg glanced at the white, two-story farmhouse to her left, sending up a silent apology to the absent worker who was in the midst of planting this year's crop, only to have a woman and her dog jogging through his freshly tilled soil. She had visited this local battlefield with family previously, so she identified the farmhouse: the Best Farm, overrun by Union and Confederate soldiers alike on July 9, 1864. She and Hawk were ruining the efforts of some National Park Service employee who worked the land to re-create the look of that one-hundred-fifty-year-old tragedy.
Hawk made a beeline toward the 14th New Jersey Monument, gathered himself, and then sailed over the low rail fence separating the memorial from the plowed field. "Hawk, wait!" The dog froze and glanced back at his handler. Meg scrambled over the fence and jumped down onto neatly clipped green grass. "Good boy. Free. Find it!" Hawk darted across the lawn toward a stand of trees on the far side.
Shielding her eyes, Meg glanced up at the memorial. Wearing the traditional slouched kepi hat and full Union blues, the soldier atop the tall squared column leaned casually on the stock of his rifle while his free hand dug into the pouch on his right hip. The soldier's presence reminded Meg that the victim at the riverbank wasn't the only person to have met a bloody end on this land.
Hawk was gaining speed now, as if the scent was stronger, allowing him the luxury of a faster pace without losing the trail. Her heart pounding, Meg paced herself, thankful those very painful jogging sessions with her dog at 5 AM were paying off. It was inhumane to jog before the sun came up and, more importantly, before she'd had at least two coffees. But, because of the habit, she and Hawk were fit and ready to take on any terrain for any length of time.
The radio at her belt crackled and Brian's voice broke through a haze of static. "Meg, we've just gone under the Urbana Pike and are still heading east. I've lost visual; what's your location?" Meg tugged the radio off her belt as she and Hawk slipped into the cool shade of a stand of trees. "We're north of you, almost at the pike ourselves." She paused to drag air into her oxygen-starved lungs. "Looks like we're headed for the railroad track and the junction. Will keep you apprised."
"Roger that. Same here." A final click and the radio went silent.
Hawk scrabbled over the loose rocks lining the incline leading up to the sun-swept rail line. "Hawk, wait." Meg clipped her radio back onto her belt and studied the train tracks. The shiny metal of the rails told her this line was still in use. They could proceed but it had to be with caution. "Hawk, slow. Find it, but slow."
Hawk didn't try to cross the rails; instead, he hugged the edge of the track bed at a healthy distance from danger. Almost immediately, the track split at a switch, forking in different directions, but Hawk continued along the right-hand spur, heading south again. This was the Monocacy rail junction, one of the reasons the Confederate Army had wanted to seize the town — he who commanded the rail lines in that war held the upper hand.
In less than a minute, as they followed the curving track to the right, their next challenge came into view. "Oh, hell. Hawk, stop." The dog halted, but restlessly shifted his weight from paw to paw. He whined and looked up at Meg. She reached down and stroked his silky fur. "I know, bub, I know. He went that way. But give me a second here."
Ahead of them was the single-track trestle traversing the Monocacy River. Not a difficult crossing, unless a train came while they were stranded far above the water. Then there would be nowhere to go but straight down. Way, way down. This early in spring, the banks were near to overflowing and the river was a rushing torrent; if the fall didn't kill them, drowning would be a very real possibility.
She pulled the radio off her belt. "Brian, we have a problem."
"What's wrong?" Brian's words came hard through gasping breaths. He and Lacey were still on the move.
"The trail is leading us back to your side, but over the train trestle."
"Is it safe?"
"As long as we don't meet a train." She glanced back up the track. The fork Hawk had not taken stretched beyond them to the north, but the track they'd followed from the west disappeared from view into the trees. South of them, the track curved away into the forest. "I can't see the far side of the river. Hear any trains coming?"
"Lacey, stop." For a moment, all Meg could hear was Brian's labored breathing. "I don't hear anything. If I do, I'll warn you. And I'll call in our location to the railroad to tell them we're on the tracks."
"Okay. We're on our way; let me know if you hear anything. I bet we'll be over and clear before you even hear back." She eyed the narrow expanse of track. "But if there is a train, or if you don't hear from me inside of ten minutes, have a team scour the riverbanks downstream. In case we went over."
"Are you sure about this? I know how you feel about heights."
A vision of the young girl filled her mind — waxy skin, clouded, staring eyes, and brutally torn flesh. Meg owed it to that girl to give her best. Their best. She set her jaw. "Oh yeah, I know. Doesn't matter. We need to keep going. I'll contact you after we cross. Meg out."
She cut contact. "Gonna need it," she mumbled.
One more quick look in both directions, one more moment of stillness with only the sounds of her dog panting and her own heavy breathing filling her ears. It was now or never. "Let's go, Hawk. Slow." There would be time to find the trail again on the far side; for now what mattered was getting across.
Hawk went first, picking his way carefully along the west side of the trestle where the offset track allowed extra room to walk. Meg was very conscious that while there was enough room to exit a disabled locomotive, were a train to speed by, the vortex of air produced would knock them from the narrow span and send them spinning into the abyss below.
A series of railroad ties over a steel base and stone pilings spanned the bridge, but the gap between the ties was easily five to six inches. Through the empty space, water rushed by forty feet below at dizzying speed. It was mesmerizing, that tumbling, swirling water, enough to make Meg's head swim. So far below. So very, very far ...
With effort, Meg forced her gaze up toward the thick trees on the far bank. You know the deal: you ignore the fact that heights freak you the hell out, and you get to enjoy a lovely walk on a rickety old bridge. She took a deep breath and eased forward, placing her feet carefully to navigate the gaps. Eyes ahead. Just think of it as a nice walk over the boards of the back porch. She focused on Hawk and let his swaying back end guide her. Ten feet. Fifteen. Doing great.
Ahead, Hawk's paw slid on a creosote-coated railroad tie, still damp and slick from last night's rain, and he stumbled, all four feet scrabbling for purchase. Meg's fear of heights vaporized. She lunged forward to help him, but tripped over the raised edge of an uneven railroad tie. She landed hard on her knees and one hand, the other hand shooting through the gap between the ties and scraping a layer of skin off the inside of her wrist when the sleeve of her FBI windbreaker snagged on the upper surface of the wood. "Jesus Christ, Meg," she admonished, grasping her aching wrist. "Pay. Attention."
Two sounds struck at once — the piercing screech of the train whistle from the far side of the bridge and Brian's frantic voice bursting from her radio. "Meg! Meg! Train headed right for you. Get off the track!"
Her head snapped toward the sound of the whistle as her heart stuttered. No train yet — it was still buried in the trees — but the faint chug of the engine was swiftly growing louder. A frantic glance backward showed the north bank was closer to her, but Hawk had progressed enough that the south bank was closer to him. She lunged to her feet and started to run toward him. Right for the train. "Talon, go. Go!"
Years of training that demanded instant and unquestioning obedience in response to his "don't mess with me" name on top of an instinctive reaction to the panic lacing Meg's voice had Hawk bolting along the trestle, somehow keeping his feet firmly beneath him. Breath sawing, Meg pelted after him. One hundred feet. Adrenaline flooded her veins, making her feet fly. Her ears roared with the sound of her own raging blood. Eighty feet to go.
The whistle blew again. The grind of wheels against the rails sliced the air. Sixty feet. The tracks beneath her shook violently. It was nearly upon them.
The locomotive barreled around the bend, a black monster snaking along the track, followed by tanker cars and loads of lumber. Death on wheels. And they were headed right for it.
"Run!" Even though Hawk was pulling away from her, she screamed to spur him on. But as the whistle blasted again and the squeal of wheels grew louder, she wasn't sure he could hear her.
Hawk leapt off the trestle, his lithe body stretching long and graceful as he hurtled into the tall grass on the far bank. Meg put on a final burst of speed, spurred by raw fear, the intense effort ripping a scream of agony from her lips as she dove for safety a second before the engine thundered past. She hit the ground with a cry, air slamming from her lungs. She tumbled over and over, through long grass and thorns and sharp fallen branches until she came to rest on her back, blinking up at the sunlight sifting through the leaves. The trailing cars flew past with a screech of wheels on steel, whipping the tall grasses into a wild frenzy over her head while the ground shuddered beneath her. Her eyes fluttered shut, sudden exhaustion overtaking her.
She was conscious first of Hawk's whine, then the warm lap of his tongue on her cheek. She slowly became aware of Brian's bellows through the radio. "Meg! Meg, are you all right?" She reached for her dog, burying her face in the softness of his fur and glorying in the heavy beat of her heart nearly banging through her rib cage. She was still alive, and so was Hawk. But it had been close. Too close.
She fumbled at her radio. With a groan, she pulled it off her belt, still feeling the imprint of the case in her bruised skin. "Meg —" Her voice was a raspy croak, so she cleared her throat and tried again. "Meg here."
"Oh, thank God. You scared the life out of me."
"I scared it out of me too. That was way too close. Like fractions of a second too close." She pushed up on her elbow to see Hawk already searching the area. He gave a sharp bark and looked back toward her. She could practically hear his thoughts: Come on, already. What are you waiting for? "Hawk's got the scent again and is ready to rock 'n' roll." The last car whizzed by, the rhythmic clacking of wheels on the track fading. "And we're clear."
"You up to finishing this?"
Excerpted from "Lone Wolf"
Copyright © 2016 Sara Driscoll.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It has been a long while since I have read a good tracking dog crime fiction book. It didn't disappoint.
This book was made to order for me because I love dogs , history , a good mystery , strong women & the knowledge that all will turn out well in the end! I have a very high stress medical career in which all does not always end well so refuse to read depressing books in my spare time. Thank you for providing this book!
New author for me and I'll be reading the next one in the series. My one complaint is that Meg is not a supervisor but is very bossy to her co-workers. Loved the hard working dogs with their great personalities.
Very good reading.
Awesome book. Can't wait for the next one. Thank you.
What a great read this is! I have been interested in reading about K-9 partners as well as search and rescue teams with dogs for quite some time, but this one is the most intense I've held my breath through so far. The beginning of the novel has us chasing after Meg, who is racing behind her beautiful black lab, Hawk, who is scenting out a rapist. We see, after many hair-raising minutes, positive results. Barely have Hawk and his FBI handler Meg had a chance to relax but they are called out on another emergency. This one is heinous, an explosion at the Department of Agriculture complex in DC, involving middle school children touring the building. Part of the building collapsed, much of it on fire, with few other details. Hawk diligently tracks for survivors before they seek those who did not survive the blast and subsequent fire. This is only the first in a series of bombings without rhyme or reason for why the next would be chosen. The ego and rage of the bomber bwho didn't get the attention he or she felt deserved led the person to contact McCord, a journalist at a DC paper, to rant and rave. In the meantime, Meg, a firefighter she met at the first bombing, and McCord are ready to use their respective resources to find the killer. This well-written novel shows how very human the first responders are, including those who go into ruins to find the missing. The gamut of emotions is faced by the characters, emotions those outside of the profession can only imagine. The bond between a K-9 and its human partner is incredibly close, often stronger than the bond when both partners are human. The characters in this novel represent some of the finest of traits of such partners. There are plot twists that, even though we see the mind of the killer, we don't see coming. To me, it is interesting to see the combination of investigative techniques and those who provide search and rescue to figure out who the real bomber is. The story is intense and suspenseful. I thought I knew how it would end, but I couldn't have foreseen just how much more stunning the story would get. I very highly recommend Lone Wolf; I am so looking forward to the next-in series!
A story featuring a search-and-rescue dog always catches my attention and author Sara Driscoll has crafted a wonderful new series featuring F.B.I. Special Agent Meg Jennings and Hawk, her elite Labrador. Narrator Angela Dawe gives voice to the various characters in the first installment in Driscoll’s series, LONE WOLF. Dawe’s timing and accents are spot on. Her interruptions of the varying emotions enhance the story giving it additional depth. She conveys the sentiments of the characters with great ease. Driscoll explores the relationship between dog and handler and the bond they create. Through vivid descriptions and an eye for details, the author relates the intense work of a search-and-rescue K-9 unit. Driscoll puts the listener amid the action and makes them feel the adrenaline rush of the activities. This thrilling story takes listeners on a journey to find a mad bomber. The author mixes in bits of humor and a touch of romance to keep the story in balance and not quite so dark. The characters are likable, realistic, and well-developed. Their interaction holds the listeners’ attention as they hold their breath to the captivating conclusion. LONE WOLF is an enticing start to what promises to be an enthralling new series. It’s also a great way to pay tribute to the real search-and-rescue K-9 units and the amazing work they do. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
The author paints a very realistic picture of a rescue dog team at work in several different kinds of crime scenes. The connection between Hawk and Meg is awe inspiring, the disciplined respect and loyalty they share within the team of two was amazing poetry in motion, as the very vivid images of their work come to the pages of the book. The main focus in the story is training and working with the K-9 dogs, the different kind of jobs and abilities the dogs have, and how the team operates. Meg and Hawk both are given complex personalities and nuances, I wish there would have been more of that with the secondary characters as well. The rest of them felt flat and necessary, instead of lively vibrant part of the tale. The hunt for the bomber is intriguing. I like it when the culprit gets a point of view in a suspense story, it gives more depth to the tale, more understanding for their reasoning for the crimes they commit. Also the fact that his identity is sealed for the longest time, keeps the reader on their toes and interest to the story high. I'm not a fan of the word definitions in the beginning of each chapter especially since I don't think these words themselves had much to do with the story at times. And the ticking clock on the beginning - not my thing either. It just makes me go back and forth looking at what time and date was it in the beginning of the last chapter, and every time the flow of the tale is interrupted. That's me, maybe someone likes that, but I think the flow of time moving on is better fitted into the story itself. Overall the suspense was chilling and the danger horrifying. Some of the rescue scenes from the bombing were powerful and intense. The collapse of all emotions at the end of the rescue efforts was a strong, moving moment that made me say a little prayer for all law enforcement there and then. An intriguing start for a new series, a promising fan favorite to come with K-9 readers ~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Sara Driscoll, and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your work with me! Lone Wolf is the first of a series (FBI K-9s) but completely stand alone. And it is an excellent who-done-it, nearly impossible to put down and filled with people you can admire and dogs you will love. Sara Driscoll keeps the tension high and the suspense building until the very satisfactory conclusion. She is an author I will watch, and this is a series I will look forward to following.
Puppy Love, explosions, dedication and most of all Heart make up this crime drama by Sara Driscoll. A bomber seeking revenge terrorizes leaving destruction of property and lives. Who you going to call? FBI Canine Forensic Unit Meg Jennings and her dog Hawk. This team races against time to stop more losses. Many interesting characters are presented and could make for a sequel hopefully leading to a bit of romance. Sent a free copy from publisher and author via NetGalley.
First in a new series FBI. K-9 with "LONE WOLF " by Sara Driscoll. It's a tense, plot to the end. You meet different characters that work along with FBI agent Megan and Hawk, her Labrador. Mad bomber is still at large, after a bomb in a government building, in Wash D.C. The detail working of how Megan and Hawk work together, you felt like part of their team. Being to close to a train going by, in dense woods, and Hawk still is going. Hawk never stops till he had the bomber, and still waited for the command from Megan. A great first book, I especially enjoy the working of Hawk. Will look for the second book by her. Given book by Net Galley for my voluntary review, and my honest opinion.
3.5 stars. Lone Wolf is the first book in a new mystery series about an FBI K-9 team featuring Meg Jennings and her black Labrador, Hawk. They help in search and rescue as well as tracking missions and become part of a large task force chasing a bomber who is seeking to punish those who he believes wronged him. With an easy-to-read style, this was an entertaining read and should appeal to any dog lovers, as there was plenty of information on the training of working dogs, their behavior, and in particular, the bond between handler and dog. The authors introduce a host of interesting side characters including Meg's sister, Cara, who runs a dog training center, Clay, a reporter, and Todd, a fireman, as well as Brian and Lacey who are also part of the K9 team. They are all really likeable characters and I'd be interested to read more about them and hope they'll become more fleshed out in subsequent books. The mystery aspect wasn't particularly suspenseful or intense but interesting enough to keep my attention throughout. I felt Meg was portrayed a bit too much like some super intuitive superwoman who could solve anything while the rest of the task force lagged behind. Personally, I prefer characters who are slightly more flawed. However, it's a new series that definitely has potential, especially if you enjoy reading about dogs. The definitions at the start of nearly each chapter would have been better placed in the format of a list at the end of the book as there often was no connection to the chapter they introduced.
Megan Jennings and Hawk, her black Labrador, work for the FBI. In the first few pages they catch a murderer and set the stage for the main event of the book – finding a bomber that kills and has no interest in stopping. The plot is well laid out. The action is intense. There is truth in the description of the bomb site aftermath without being too graphic. The characters Meg and Hawk live and work with are introduced for future books in the series and romance is hinted at but not explored. I liked the book and look forward to reading more about the Meg, Hawk, the K-9 teams, Clay (the reporter) and Cara (Meg’s sister). I believe this series has great potential. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC. This is my honest review.
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