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James O. Born talks SCENT OF MURDER

Career law enforcement officer James O. Born has written multiple thriller series that sizzle with authenticity (the Bill Tasker series, the Alex Duarte series, as James O'Neal the futuristic police procedurals The Human Disguise and The Double Human, with Lou Dobbs Border War). His next novel, out tomorrow, focuses on the work of police K-9 units:

Two years after being tossed from the detective bureau for using questionable tactics while catching a child molester, deputy Tim Hallett's life is finally on track. Assigned to a special K-9 unit with the best partner in the world, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky, Hallett has finally learned to balance police work with his family life. But that all changes in the heat of a Florida sugarcane field.

While searching for a kidnapper, Rocky locks onto the scent of a predator unlike anyone has ever seen. Or have they? The more Hallett digs, the closer he comes to his old issues when the case that ended his career as a detective appears to be the key to a series of kidnappings.

When the trail turns to murder, Hallett risks everything to catch the killer, even if it means clearing the child molester who drove him to violence and ruined his career. Along the way, Hallett and his partners learn the true meaning of loyalty and courage as their canine companions take police work to a new level and show that instinct means more than training.

Jim made time to answer my emailed questions:

Gerald So: How long had you been thinking of writing a book about K-9 law enforcement work?

Jim Born: Police K-9s have interested me since the beginning of my career [1980s]. If you've ever seen them in action you'll never forget it. Finding hidden drug money or a body is a spectacular accomplishment using only your nose but watching a German Shepherd run down a fleeing robber is heart-stopping. I tried to capture both skills as well as the relationship between the dog and handler in this book.

Gerald: What are some ways dogs assist LEOs that might surprise readers?

Jim: There is so much a dog can do, from the obvious like sniffing out drugs or bombs to the things people don't generally consider. The community outreach and love a community has for police dogs is outstanding. I've been watching at different events and any time a police dog is present that's where the people tend to congregate. I even have some police K-9s coming to my book signings.

Gerald: Have you worked in a K-9 unit yourself, or were you inspired by the work of others?

Jim: I have never worked directly with a dog as a K-9 handler. They have been invaluable in a number of instances on cases I have worked. The most obvious instance was tracking fugitives that fled a crime scene. In one case, I worked with handlers and dogs as we chased escapees from one of the major state prisons through the sawgrass which is where the cover image of Scent of Murder comes from. I never pass up a chance to work with K-9s and their handlers.

Gerald: What's the best book you've read recently?

Jim: Michael Connelly's The Burning Room. No one gets inside the head of police better than Connelly. Sometimes he helps me understand what I'm thinking during my police job. He does it in such a subtle and realistic way that all of his books are extraordinarily compelling and interesting. He is the man!

Gerald: What's next for you?

Jim: I am currently working on a new book with Lou Dobbs. It's an interesting departure for me because it has to do with spies and the military with only a little police work involved. It's also required much more research than I normally have to do. But I like a project where I learn new things and I certainly have picked up some interesting facts along the way.

Thank you very much, Jim. I'll have a review of Scent of Murder posted here next week.


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