Desperate Housedogs - Sparkle Abbey
Released October 2011
Bell Bridge Books
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Pet therapist Caro Lamont is with one of her clients, Kevin Blackstone, trying to uncover why his German Shepherds have suddenly taken to growling and barking at things in the backyard. When they escape and attack a landscaper, Caro is baffled, but thankfully the landscaper doesn't take any legal action. Later, Kevin is murdered and Caro, as the last known person to have seen him, becomes a suspect.
Not wanting her good name to be dragged through the mud again, Caro decides to do a little sleuthing of her own. She soon realizes she has a steadfast alibi, but her alibi moves her friend to the top of the list of suspects. Caro can't have that. As the homicide detective keeps telling her to butt out, Caro simply doesn't listen and keeps learning more about the goings-on in Kevin's neighborhood, and with any luck, her novice sleuthing won't really land her in a tough spot.
Desperate Housedogs was a really charming cozy mystery. I've read other series involving animals, and this one stands out as one of the best in terms of likability of the characters. It did have its weaknesses, but I could overlook them. For me, the biggest was that the actual murder was a little too easily predicted. It was apparent to me why Kevin's dogs were acting that way. The fact that a pet therapist, a supposed professional, missed it was odd.
There's a secondary plot between Caro and her cousin Mel. Their grandmother left a valuable brooch to "her favorite granddaughter" and both feel they hold that honor. Given that, they steal the brooch from each other every time the opportunity presents itself. I'm intrigued that the second book in this series is now going to be told from Mel's point of view. That is a unique twist that I'm looking forward to.