Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Money Bird, by Sheila Webster Boneham

Midnight Ink, ISBN 9780738734873,  September 2013

Janet McPhail, photographer and serious dog enthusiast, is back, along with her Australian shepherd Jay, her ex-flower child friend Goldie, and hunky botanist and Labrador retriever owner Tom, as well as the rest of the Fort Wayne dog sports community.

Janet, Tom, and their dogs are out at a privately owned parkland popular for training and exercising retrievers when Tom's Lab, Drake, abruptly abandons the exercise, leaps into the river, and returns from a small island with a blood-soaked canvass bag. Inside the bag is a torn $100 bill, and one red feather, which certainly isn't from any local birds.

This is of course just the tip of the iceberg, and a wild few days including a peculiar local cult, exotic birds, a child (not a dog!) with an excellent set of teeth, a high school crush of Janet's, and Tom's potentially alarming announcement that he and Drake want to "expand their family."

Things start to get scary when a photography student of Janet's suddenly turns up dead shortly after leaving a message asking to meet to discuss something odd he's seen out at that same park.

This is a good, solid mystery, with adequate clues as well as good red herrings, and Janet and friends, including the four-legged ones, are developing nicely as characters.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.