Kate Turner is four months into her year-long contract as the substitute veterinarian covering for the practice owner, who has gone on a round-the-world tour. It's life in a small town in upstate New York, and it's a practice that does house calls. but Kate is starting to settle in and enjoy it.
But on this particular rainy day, she arrives at the home of the Langthornes to find their door open, all their 27 Cavalier King Charles show dogs running loose in the house, and the Langthornes dead--gunshot wounds to their chests. She calls 911, and her life starts to get very, very complicated.
No one believes her when she says that the twenty-seven dogs don't include the Langthornes' most valuable dog, Charles Two (or possibly Charles Too; I listened to the audiobook.), is missing. Since the Langthornes refused to either tattoo or microchip their dogs, there's no way for her to prove it.
Convinced on relatively little evidence that the police just aren't taking case seriously enough, Kate starts nosing around, asking questions, and taking notes. Her concern over the dogs spikes when it becomes clear that the Langthornes' estranged daughter Pippi is only interested in dumping them as as quickly as possible, getting as much money as possible for the valuable dogs. Kate's inquiring mind uncovers multiple possible motives for murder. Meanwhile, there might be something funny going on at the veterinary practice. Are they losing clients? Gaining clients? Is this really unrelated to the murders?
Is it really a good idea to go around asking questions of potential murderers?
Kate is a likable, smart character who loves animals and is very, very good with them. Sadly, when it comes to dealing with people on matters unrelated to their pets, she has much less insight and common sense. There's a lot to enjoy here, but sometimes I really wanted to give Kate a good shake.
No dogs die in the course of this novel. Also, in a very nice touch, the daffy chihuahua owner Daphne, makes clothes for her little dog--and Kate, initially somewhat put off by this, takes at good look at them.
And concludes that, in a surprise to exactly no one who has small dogs who get dressed regularly, that these clothes are well-made and well-designed, and could be really useful for dogs who need to be kept from licking and chewing at incisions and injuries. Daffy Daphne turns out to be an indulgent but smart and devoted dog owner.
All in all, I enjoyed this a lot, though there are certainly things to complain about, and I'll probably read more books in the series. It's so rare that small dogs and the owners of small dogsdu aren't portrayed as dumb, annoying fools.
I bought this book.