Saturday, May 8, 2021

For a Good Paws (Barkery & Biscuits Mystery #5), by Linda O. Johnston (author), Carla Mercer-Meyer (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, May 2019

Carrie Kennersley, owner of the twin bakeries, Icing on the Cake (selling human sweets) and The Barkery (selling treats for dogs), is a little worried when she learns that Mike Holpurn, convicted of killing Knobcone Heights' first female mayor, is being released on parole after ten years. However, her attention is focused mainly on her assistant, Dinah, and the birthday party Carrie has planned for her at "the resort." If the hotel in question has another name, I didn't catch it in the audiobook. But that's the risk of listening to an audiobook; you may not catch all the relevant names, and you can't easily flip back through the book when you realize you missed it.

At party, though, the widower of the murdered mayor, Henry Schulzer, is a guest in the hotel, and Mike Holpurn turns up, with his two brothers, to confront Schulzer, whom he accuses of being the real murderer. They, of course, argue. Schulzer also argues with Dinah, who is an aspiring novelist and expresses an interest in writing a novel about the late mayor's murder, changing the facts some, including changing the murderer. Schulzer threatens to ruin her budding writing career if she writes anything about it, whether or not it defames him. He also argues with several other people. Henry Schulzer does not appear to be a nice person. Of course, neither does Mike Holpurn. Or, for that matter, Silas the local tv news reporter, who manages to have unfriendly encounters with Schulzer, Holpurn, and Dinah.

The next morning, Henry Schulzer is found dead, murdered.

Dinah is a prime suspect, based on having argued more with Schulzer than anyone else, but not the only one.

This is where the book starts to go wrong for me.

Knobcone Heights, although a relatively small city (one vet clinic, one animal shelter, with apparently no others nearby, does have a police department, with at least two detectives, who are certainly not portrayed as bumbling idiots. Yet Carrie is quite sure that they would not have solved the last several murders in town, if not for her able meddling. And of course, she believes that she can't rely on them to solve this case, when Dinah is an obvious suspect.

Her friend, Billi, is a city councilwoman, and also head of the local animal rescue. She doesn't dress the the same way for animal rescue work or events as she does for the animal shelter. This seems normal and appropriate, but we have Carrie earnestly explaining that it's appropriate every single time Billi is at the shelter or present for an animal rescue-related event. It felt a little strange even the first time.

Carrie and Dinah are apparently really good friends, in addition to Dinah being Carrie's only full-time employee at the bakeries. (There are other part-timers.) And Carrie is really, truly, almost sure Dinah can''t be the murderer. Almost. It left me wondering whether there's something important I didn't know about Dinah due to not having read the previous books {if so, it's not revealed in this book), or whether Carrie just has a strange lack of trust in her friends. It was another slightly weird, off-putting note.

The eventual solution to the murder, to me, came out of left field, and not in a good way. It's not that I couldn't believe that character would kill someone if it mattered to them. However, the way it worked out just felt contrived to me, almost as if their motive was pulled out of a hat late in the game.

The characters are likable, and there are cute animals along the way. It's a fun story. Yet it left me unsatisfied.

I bought this audiobook.

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