Terrier by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper #1)
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.
In this way, Beka learns of someone in the Lower City who has overturned the power structure of the underworld and is terrorizing its citizens into submission and silence. Beka's magical listening talent is the only way for the Provost's Dogs to find out the identity of this brutal new underlord, for the dead are beyond fear. And the ranks of the dead will be growing if the Dogs can't stop a crime wave the likes of which has never been seen. Luckily for the people of the Lower City, the new puppy is a true terrier!
CONTRIBUTOR(S): Susan Denaker (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
LENGTH: 581 pages (15 hours 3 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
TERRIER is about an ancestress of George Cooper, a character important to other series set in Tortall. It serves as a prequel of sorts, and is best read after the Song of the Lioness quartet for readers who intend to read all of the Tortall books. However, after the prologue which establishes the connection to George Cooper, the rest of the story does not require any additional knowledge from the other books in order to be appreciated.
The story is told in a journal format, with a few entries to establish Beka's backstory and place in the Tortall books, then it switches completely to Beka's journal that she keeps as part of her Dog training.
Beka is from the slums of the Lower City, and she lives near the Kennel she's assigned to as a Dog. She has some friends among the Puppies, she gets to know her training Dogs (Tunstall and Goodwin), and she ends up making a few friends with rushers new to the court of the Rogue. She has a cat with purple eyes, and a magical ability that lets her get information that other Dogs cannot. She ends up on the trail of two sets of murders: someone hiring workers and then killing them to keep their efforts secret, and someone who’s been extorting poor people by kidnapping their kids. Beka trains, goes on patrol with her Dogs, and tries to make things right in a city with too few good Dogs to handle ordinary crime, let alone spree and serial killers.
Beka makes friends, straight and crooked, and tries to keep from crossing any lines that can’t be uncrossed. The camaraderie in the morning group which develops is a bright spot in her world of patrols, fights, and death. She has strong friendships with individuals and as a group. The journal format of the book lends itself well to conveying their growing friendships, which are a strong point of the novel.
TERRIER closes with Beka still a Puppy but wiser than when she began, and ready for her next challenge. The story closes off so neatly that it feels like it could have been a stand-alone, but instead it’s the first in a trilogy.
Graphic/Explicit CW for grief, cursing, violence, murder, suicide, death.
Moderate CW for child abuse, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, excrement, fire/fire injury, blood, kidnapping, injury detail, slavery, child death, parental death.
Minor CW for ableism, vomit, alcohol, alcoholism, sexual content, sexual harassment, rape, confinement, pregnancy, terminal illness.