In "Suspect," both Maggie and Scott James have lost partners with whom they were close. Both are wounded characters, physically and emotionally, facets of their personalities that Crais embraced as he wrote the book.
"It allowed me to illustrate what a healing force a dog can be in our lives, and how man and dog can heal each other," he says. "I wanted to show these two damaged individuals, the dog and the man, and how they need each other and bond together and form their own pack."
Working on the book left Crais with a great deal of respect for the LAPD K-9 officers he watched work as part of his research.
"It is the most dangerous job that a police officer can have," he says. "A K-9 officer is more likely to be in violent confrontation with a bad guy than a SWAT officer, a narcotics officer, any other kind of officer. They're not deployed until there's a bad guy who's already made the choice that he's not going to give up.
"It's a pretty gnarly job."
The book also left him feeling more likely to add a new dog to his family.
"To go through this with Maggie was very healing for me personally," Crais says. "I think I could get another dog now and I think I will. There's been a lot of closure through this process."
"Suspect," which brings Maggie and Scott together to solve the crime that killed Scott's partner, was originally intended as a stand-alone book, something different to do before returning to Crais' long-running series with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.
"I love Elvis and Joe, they're my go-to guys," Crais says. "But I fell in love with Maggie. Having written her, and where this [book] leaves off, there's ample opportunity to return to her. And what I'm hearing from initial reader, and reviewer, response -- I don't want to jinx myself -- but she may turn into one of my most popular characters. So I've already been noodling around ideas."
Ideas, he says, not just for a book that features Maggie and Scott, but one that might also bring her into the world he'd already created for Elvis and Joe.
"I have been trying to twist and turn and yoga that so I can maybe use Maggie in an Elvis and Joe book," Crais says. "If I can figure that one out, that one will be a slam dunk."