on October 24th 2006
Series: Beka Cooper#1
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Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, commonly known as "the Provost's Dogs," in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. To the surprise of both the veteran "Dogs" and her fellow "puppies," Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat. But it's also where Beka was born, and she's comfortable there.
Beka gets her wish. She's assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost's Dogs. They're tough, they're capable, and they're none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. What they don't know is that Beka has something unique to offer. Never much of a talker, Beka is a good listener. So good, in fact, that she hears things that Mattes and Clary never could - information that is passed in murmurs when flocks of pigeons gather ... murmurs that are the words of the dead.
Recently I’ve been seeing posts singing the praises of Tamora Pierce. I had to admit that I had never heard of her even though she written a gazillion books. (There are 79 distinct works listed on Goodreads.) I decided to give her a try and Terrier was an available ebook on my library’s website.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. Fantasy? YA? Whatever it was, it wasn’t this.
This book reads more like a crime story than typical fantasy. There are fantasy elements. It is set in a fictional world with its own unique idioms and cultures. There is magic. But those things are secondary to the story being told.
Beka is a police trainee. Real police are known as Dogs and trainees are Puppies. She is assigned to a rough part of the city by request and is partnered with a well known team of Dogs. She wants to be here because she comes from these streets. As a child she helped the Provost with a tip on a crime gang and when he went to thank her he found her living with her terminally ill mother and her younger siblings. He took the family into his household. Now her siblings are growing up with aspirations of a better life than Beka could have ever imagined for them but she is afraid that they are ashamed of her and where they came from.
Beka is also magical. She can hear the ghosts that ride on the backs of pigeons. She can hear the snippets of conversation that get caught up in wind swirls in city corners. She has a feline companion named Pounce who may or may not be a God. He isn’t saying. She uses this information to find out about two crime sprees going on under the noses of the Dogs.
She has other issues too. Twenty percent of puppies die during training. A charming gangster who is new in town and his entourage decide to move into her boarding house. Her childhood best friend has married into a crime lord’s family and now her son was murdered.
The policing skills she are learning are a bit questionable. She learns the correct etiquette for taking individual bribes and how to collect the weekly bribes due to the Dogs as an organization. She is learning the proper way to beat criminals into submission. Bribery and police brutality are just how things are done in this world.
I enjoyed this first book in the Beka Cooper series. I will definitely be reading more. Thanks to Nori and everyone else who has recommended her recently.