In the fifteenth part of Bloodhound, Beka and Goodwin learn the hard way that some Dogs in Port Caynn aren’t actually doing the job they’re supposed to do. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of child slavery/kidnapping.
Well, this was disturbing!
I feel like Bloodhound is a deliberately slower novel than Terrier, and I actually love it. It’s a much more complex mystery, one that I fully admit to being unable to piece together. Like, this is not at all similar to how I had a vague theory as to the identity of the Shadow Snake. I have nothing NOTHING AT ALL. People??? People are doing it? It’s other people doing it because of reasons?
I’m a mess, and it’s not getting any better.
I know that this book might also seem slower because of the way I’m reading it. That’s something I generally have to keep in mind whenever I’m doing a Mark Reads project. It’s not like Mark Watches, where television shows are clearly split up for an intended consumption. And that’s even more the case with this trilogy, which has much longer “sections” defined by the days of Beka’s journal. Basically, my perception of this is biased because of the way I’m reading it, I get that. So this section of the book, which deals almost entirely with a singular case given to Beka and Goodwin on the street, doesn’t initially seem to have all that much to do with the narrative as a whole, BUT DEAR READERS, I OFFER UP THE OPINION THAT IT HAS A WHOLE LOT TO DO WITH THIS BOOK. (Which I may be utterly wrong about, good god I have been so horribly wrong lately.)
Of course, there’s the scene at the very beginning of this part of the book where Beka sits and listens to the ghosts carried by the pigeons in the Tradesmen’s District. It’s the closest she’s ever gotten to a concrete clue as to the identity of the group responsible. (That’s something I am comfortable stating at this point: It really feels like there has to be a group behind this, not just a single person.) Unsurprisingly, the clues are LITERALLY swept away right before she could learn anything definitive. But the interruption from Vorna, whose child is missing, is integral to this book for a number of reasons.
“This is Vorna. She was doing her wash. Her little girl wandered off.”
“Shouldn’t she get the local Dogs?” I asked.
“They told her that if she didn’t have a silver noble, she oughtn’t to bother them, Cooper,” Goodwin said almost cheerfully.
I thought, Well, there’s two coves in this city who don’t question the silver.
Now, that obviously has some ramifications for the cole business, but I think this atmosphere of corruption and loose Dogs is important for worldbuilding and characterization. I’ll talk about what this means for Beka in a bit, but let’s first talk about Sir Lionel. Wasn’t he very insistent that everything was fine in Port Caynn? I’ve had plenty of reasons to suspect that something’s going on with him, so this just adds to that. I think it contributes to the complicated world of Port Caynn as a whole, of course, though I don’t want to suggest that loose Dogs are only specific to Port Caynn. We know they’re everywhere. It’s just that these Dogs are so blatant. They openly tell Vorna that she has to pay them to get them to do their jobs, and they do so with the comfort of knowing that either their superiors don’t care or it’ll never reach them. That seems like a big deal to me!
But let’s just assume that, at best, this is just speculation on my part, and none of this matters and you’re all scratching your heads or laughing at me. I ACCEPT THIS. Beka and Goodwin are intentionally forces for good here when the Dogs in Port Caynn turned their backs on Vorna. I imagine that Vorna isn’t the first person who was restricted access to the Dogs because of her class status, and both Goodwin and Beka don’t hesitate to help out. That doesn’t mean there aren’t complications, because PEARL SKINNER. I’ll get to her soon, I promise. But I absolutely need to devote space to DOG TALK because ACHOO IS TOO MUCH. Did y’all ever suspect that this trilogy would truly ruin me just because of talk of dogs??? PROBABLY NOT TO THIS DEGREE. But reading about Beka and Achoo working with one another was so pleasing. Achoo is IN ACTION! It’s thrilling!
It got a bit scary there for a moment, though, since I was worried that more folks might have turned on Beka while she was trying to hobble the child stealers. And that touches on yet another complication that this section gives us: They now have to constantly worry about insulting or offending Pearl Skinner. What if these men were working for her? What if they just earned her wrath again? Both characters were aware of this, BUT THEY STILL SOUGHT OUT ALDIS ANYWAY. They knew they were taking a risk, but saving those kids from child slavery was more important to them. Well, there’s the additional risk they faced from being unfamiliar Dogs in Port Caynn, but Beka manages to push past that, too, by demonstrating that she really was stopping some child stealers.
Even though Beka does get the witnesses and Rats to agree to sell a story that didn’t involve her, there’s still Pearl’s spy to worry about. It’s possible the story will get back to Pearl, and it’s still possible that there will be hell to pay. But I admire these two Dogs’ commitment to doing their job, you know? I think that’s a vital aspect of their characterization. It’s comforting to think about.
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