cover image Hellhound on My Trail: A Jack Keller Novel

Hellhound on My Trail: A Jack Keller Novel

J.D. Rhoades. Polis, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-943818-23-5

Early in Rhoades’s rip-roaring, action-packed fifth Jack Keller novel (after 2015’s Devils and Dust), Jack, a Gulf War veteran who has PTSD, hears a commotion outside the Arizona bar where he works. Two ex-military types, judging by their fitness and their haircuts, have assaulted a man in a suit carrying a briefcase. With the aid of the shotgun-toting bar owner, Julianna Stetson, Jack drives off the two attackers. The man in the suit, John Maddox, is an emissary from Jack’s estranged father, Cliff Trammell, who deserted Jack’s mother before Jack was born 47 years earlier. Trammell, who was a U.S. Navy lieutenant at the time, is dying, Maddox says, and he wants to meet his son. Jack refuses, but Julianna persuades him to have a look at what Maddox has in the briefcase—a DVD, which shows scenes of combat. Meanwhile, an evil politician thinks the DVD in Jack’s possession shows an incident from the life of her war-hero father that would tarnish his memory and put the kibosh on her chances to win her Senate election. Jack embarks on a cross-country road trip to his father’s home in the Washington, D.C., area, where he hopes to learn the truth about his past and understand the full implications of his perilous new situation. All the calamities Jack experiences en route are the result of the politician letting loose her dogs, including the hellhound of the title (a killer with nothing to lose). Rhoades keeps the tension high all the way to the bittersweet ending. (Mar.)