Rating: 5 out of 5
S.L. Huang’s short story A Neurological Study on the Effects of Canine Appeal on Psychopathy, or, RIO ADOPTS A PUPPY: A Cas Russell Short Story (Cas Russell Series) may sound whimsical with that title, but it really isn’t. If you’ve read any of the Cas Russell books–and you really ought to before reading this, because parts of it won’t stand alone–you’ll know Rio as a curious character who is absolutely psychopathic, but who channels that by doing “God’s work.” In other words, he lets out his desire to do harm by taking it out on bad people. He isn’t particularly interested in helping anyone–he just needs a channel for the worst of his impulses.
Serious content note here. Rio ends up finding an injured, starving puppy, and decides to take care of it. But in his own head he still has to deal with his desire to harm others, including the puppy. So there are things he imagines doing that some readers won’t want to read.
Really this is a short story aimed at current readers of the series who want to know a bit more about Rio and how he manages his desires versus his self-imposed “calling.” It won’t stand well alone, and it’s very dark. It is, however, very well-written, and really does shed light on Rio’s thoughts and impulses. He’s always been an intriguing character, and this satisfies the urge to know more about him.