Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima

killing-trailKilling Trail by Margaret Mizushima
Series: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #1
Genre: Contemporary Mystery, Police Procedural
Setting: Timber Creek, Colorado–the high country in Colorado
Published by Crooked Lane Publishing, 2015
Hardback, Library
320 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.

With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole’s daughter, who knows more than she’s saying.

The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come. Fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box will love this explosive debut.

Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb liked her new partner. In fact she was quite taken with him. She enjoyed being with him, something she’d found lacking with previous partners, and they seemed compatible. . . .

. . . Mattie stole a quick glance. Born in Russia, he was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned. Large and muscular, strong and rugged, he was the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race.

Initial impressions

  • I love this book. And can’t wait for the next one. The Colorado setting, mystery and story of Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner K-9 police dog Robo are excellent.

The story

  • Because drugs have become an issue in Timber Creek and the surrounding national forest Timber Creek County have purchased a police service dog and assigned Officer Mattie Cobb as his partner.
  • Mattie and her new partner Robo have returned to Colorado after receiving training at K-9 Academy.
  • They answer a call about suspicious activity at a cabin and Robo finds the body of a local teenager buried in the National Forest near the cabin.
  • The rest of the book is the investigation of the murder and where it takes the police and the community.


  • Mattie and Robo are such good characters. They are getting to know each other and Mattie has to learn to trust Robo. I love watching that happen.
  • I love reading good police procedurals. I’m picky about the ones I read. I don’t like the gritty, intense stories about police officers who are as dirty as the criminals they’re after. I know those police exist and I know the longer a police officer is on the job the more jaded and pessimistic they often become. But I want to read about police who are trying to do a good job the best way they can.
  • That is the case with this book. Mattie hasn’t had an easy life. She was raised in foster homes and she has trust issues, but she wants to help people when she can. She’s a very solitary person, but she’s learning to trust a few other people as well as Robo.
  • Other characters–police officers, the veterinarian, foster care people and others–are interesting and multi-faceted. We don’t always know why some of them react the way they do, but they’re an interesting group of people.
  • I especially like Dr. Cole Walker, the veterinarian in the book. Most of the story is told from Mattie’s point-of-view, but we also have some of Cole’s POV. As the book opens he has received divorce papers and is wondering how to tell his two daughters that their mother wants nothing to do with the three of them.
  • The scenes with Cole interacting with animals shows his deep compassion for them. The author’s husband is a veterinarian so I felt those scenes were accurate and I really liked reading about the things a vet has to do to care for animals. And he’s trying to juggle that and raise his two daughters.
  • I really like the way Mattie and Robo learn to work together during this book–the different ways Robo works depending on the commands and equipment Mattie uses. That is fascinating to read about. I have so much respect for the ways dogs can help us in the military and police as well as search and rescue dogs. I also like the way the book shows Robo and Mattie work in the community in positive ways–not just as arresting officers.


  • I don’t really have any!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • This is one of my favorite books so far this year.
  • I’m so excited that another Timber Creek K-9 mystery written is set to be published September 2016! I can’t wait.


  • Debut Mystery of the Month for December, 2015, by Library Journal
  • Nominated by RT Reviews for the RT Reviewer’s Choice award for Best First Mystery

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Margaret Mizushima has a background in speech pathology and practiced in an acute care hospital before establishing her own rehabilitation agency. Currently, she balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. Her short story “Hay Hook” was published in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers anthology Crossing Colfax. She enjoys reading and hiking, and she lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/Author Margaret Mizushima, on Twitter @margmizu and on her website.

Reading Challenges

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

2 thoughts on “Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima”

  1. I love people vs. nature stories, police procedurals, and I love dogs! Perfect combo and I have just added this title to my library wishlist for this month. Thanks for pointing it out because I didn’t know about it yet but it appeals to me.


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