When I can't seem to get into any book, there are a few authors I turn to. Tamora Pierce is one of them. So, though its not new I decided to try this series when nothing else held my interest. At the start, Beka Cooper is an eight year old girl fiercely trying to take down a gang leader who beat her mother and took all the poor family has. She is rewarded by being taken in by a lord and given a chance at a career as a dog. Thats the name for police in this long ago kingdom where most folks seem to have a little magic ability and there is a lot of poverty and crime. There is a glossary in the book explaining all the terms being used which is very helpful since Dogs and Cesspool residents have their own slang terms. Now a beginner dog she has been apprenticed to one of the greatest dog pairs on the street. All the street talk is that of a baby gone missing. The baby is the child of a friend from Beka's past. She has the help of ghosts that ride pigeons tile they leave earth and of dust eddies in the street to pick up conversations no one else has heard. This leads her to information that ultimately solves the problem of many disappearances but not before she and other dogs are injured, a linked is made to secret mining, thieving and Beka helps a new rogue take power. Hard for me to explain rogues except they are into illegal activity like gambling and yet help keep law and order.
In the second story Beka Cooper Bloodhound, Beka is finished with apprenticeship but has been unsuccessful as a partner, though several have been tried out. When she is paired with a scent hound handler and the hound that had helped in a search and rescue in the first story, she loses another partner but becomes a handler. He had been abusing ACHOO. Beka's has great ability in handling animals as her talk with pigeons and her "pet" cat POUNCE so she is a natural to be the scent dog handler. This go round there is a suspect counterfeit ring in action which could well bring down the economy of the kingdom and result in widespread starvation and unrest. Beka and her former partners are back together traveling in disguise to try to sort out the situation. Beka has her first romance in this story and for a short time it looks as if her friend might be part of the ring.
The final book Beka Cooper Mastiff doesn't work as well as the other two. I especially enjoyed the bumbling mage who has more power and ability than he appears to. This time the royal heir to the throne of the kingdom has been kidnapped. He is just four years old. Quietly a group of the best trackers and dogs in the kingdom, meaning ACHOO and Beka, Mage Farmer, and Beka's old partners search for the missing heir. Beka again using voices riding pigeons and dust eddies to get clues as to what is happening. It becomes clear that one of the trackers must be a traitor as the search is thwarted at every turn. Of course Bela and those true to the kingdom rescue the young prince who had been hidden in a slave trader's caravan. The reason the prince was stolen seems weak to me as does the reason for one of the group becoming a traitor. Just like the other stories there is a lot of exciting action, this time ACHOO is injured along with everyone else in the group. Pounce shows some of his true power only hinted at before and Beka meets her future husband.
While there isn't all the fireworks of Harry Potter Magic, there is enough to make the story enjoyable. Folks who like animals will be especially taken by ACHOO who sneezes whenever he picks up a scent and by Pounce with the purple eyes and his hidden powers. You may not like the scummer pigeons so much though - they are pigeons after all. JDW3/22