Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bark Twice for Danger (The Talking Dog Detective Agency #3), by M.K. Scott

Sleeping Dragon Press, May 2018

Nala Bonne is a private investigator, at least when she isn't working as a substitute teacher at a preschool. Unfortunately, she's the substitute for her own position, which she quit, while agreeing to work as a substitute until a new person is hired. There seems to be little urgency behind this supposed search.

Luckily, right now, her school is on a break, and she can concentrate on her investigative business--which has been mostly investigating dating partners for women who have begun to suspect something is wrong. There's also some insurance investigation, which she'd prefer to do more of.

Nala's advantages include having been taught the skills of investigation by her father, a police chief, the fact that she's the daughter of the police chief, and the fact that she has a very smart rescue German shepherd--who can talk.

Yes, that's right. Max the dog can talk. This means that unlike most canine sidekicks in mysteries, he can tell her not only that he smells something, but what he smells.

Nala's latest case is a departure from her norm; it's an identity theft case. Abby Lowenstein has had some very expensive stuff charged to her card. She's canceled the card and gotten the charges removed, but she wants the person responsible caught. And a very nice lady at the shelter where she adopted her cat gave her a card--Nala's card. The nice lady at the shelter is Nala's friend Karly.

A case is a case, and Nala takes it.

Along the way, we meet Harry, who owns a superhero costume rental business he operates out of an office in the same building where Nala has her office, her friend from high school, Elvin, who is a computer security expert as well as a total nerd, and Nala's parents, currently on a cruise vacation. Once Nala starts investigating identity theft and fraudulent credit card charges, she discovers she's dealing with what seems like a major outbreak. Her mother asks her to look into unauthorized charges and merchandise not received at her business, Posh Interiors. There's a particular employee she thinks is possible, and she wants Nala, first and foremost, to go to the shop and see what she can find out.

Then she discovers unauthorized charges on her own card, and finds that her office is being broken into repeatedly. The same has happened to Harry, who received an order for a number of superhero costumes, just in time for the Indianapolis ComicCon, and the payment didn't go through because apparently the card owner discovered what was happening.

The investigation(s) get very tangled and complicated, and Max on the one hand picks up some important scent evidence, and on the other hand forgets that he can't talk around other people and creates some embarrassing situations for Nala.

Oh, and he's got a thing about little dogs. So does Nala, and I guess the writing team of M.K. Scott. At every appearance of little dogs, appearances utterly unnecessary to the plot, they are described as "yappy little dogs." That's the entire description; none of these little dogs ever gets any description beyond that. Meanwhile, Max does a lot of unprovoked barking himself, and while it annoys Nala, it never becomes an occasion to diss all big dogs, or even, really, Max. It's just part of Max's lovable self.

Can you tell this annoys me, as I sit here with my eight-pound little dog, who is my service dog, who today accompanied me to a busy, crowded supermarket, helping me go about my business without the issues I would otherwise have had? Yeah, it annoyed me. A lot. Max could do with a bit of the training that not only my service dog has had, but also previous "just pets" small dogs I've had, and rescue dogs I fostered and prepared for adoption, before my life changed and I couldn't do that anymore.

So, that detracted from the story for me, the more so because those little dogs served no function in the story except to be dissed as "yappy little dogs."

It's not likely I'll read any more of this series.

I bought this book.

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