Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Dastardly Dognapping (Grammy B. Cozy Mystery Series #1), by Jordan Wood

Jordan Wood, December 2019

Helen Boyko is a woman with grown but not yet married grandchildren, living in an apartment in a building run by an elected board of the residents. She has an elderly cockapoo named Duffy. This is not the the dog that gets dognapped. Her neighbors include the president of the board, Gloria Vaunn, who has a large, friendly, completely untrained St. Bernard mix named Gunther; cranky old man Harold Keen, who has no pets and no friends; and Helen's best friend, Rita Hawthorne. There are other residents, but these are the ones we meet. Gloria Vaunn has a housekeeper named Lynn, and a son, Stewart, who is apparently financially successful, but we don't know what exactly he does.

Very near the apartment building is a café, owned and run by Carol Wildman.

Late one evening, while Gloria is out, Gunther is stolen. She comes home from a fundraising event to find her apartment door closed and locked, a glass table near the entrance knocked over and broken, and Gunther missing.

She calls the police, who conclude that a dog in an apartment with a closed, locked dog, in a building where the outside door closes and locks automatically, has just "wandered off." Rita decides that she and Helen should investigate this crime themselves.

If I had a nickel for every time someone in this novella said "it's just a dog," including people who supposedly care about Gloria and/or Gunther, I could at least buy myself a good-sized chocolate bar.

Stewart resents the fact that Gloria has changed her will to leave a portion of her money to Gunther. Stewart still gets the bulk of it , but a portion would go to Gunther for his care.

Lynn resents the fact that Gunther is big and clumsy, knocks things over, and also resents that Gloria restricts what cleaning products she can use, for Gunther's safety.

Harold Keen says Gunther is too loud, which would be a lot more persuasive if he didn't also complain that Gloria turns the stove on too loudly. Gloria lives directly over him, but he also complains that other people walk too loudly.

Carol Wildman has a far more rational complaint. Gloria brings Gunther with her to the café, where Gunther, yes, knocks things over, and also jumps on customers, and slobbers over their food and drink. She has banned Gunther, but Gloria ignores this, assuming it's not serious.

These are the suspects in the theft of Gunther.

Helen and Rita are the investigators. Rita is, alas, very imaginative and not much tethered to reality. Nor does she have the slightest clue when to not spill out what's on her mind, whether it's an accusation that someone is obviously the thief--and minutes later that someone else obviously is--or, her latest ridiculous Clever Plan for getting information, such as telling the counter clerk at the local pound (when they finally, ridiculously late, get around to checking the pound), that she's Katherine Hepburn, who of course was dead more than a decade at that point. Merely telling the truth would have been more believable and effective.

I can't really like any of these characters. The sanest and most reasonable, Helen, seems remarkably indifferent to her own elderly dog. She rarely has anything positive to say about Duffy, and when she learns that Harold intends to "implement a no dogs rule for the entire complex," she thinks, "While losing Duffy wouldn't destroy me, it would be very empty in the apartment without her."

That's not the reaction of a normal dog owner to possibly being forced to surrender her elderly dog whom she's had since a puppy.

It's also very, very near the end before anyone bothers to mention that taking Gunther without Gloria's permission was theft, and that theft is a crime, even if what's stolen is, as was said far too often, "just a dog."

And some of what was said about the dogs themselves was just weird, too. I do not believe the author actually know any dogs, or any dog owners, or if she does, she doesn't listen to what dog owners actually say about their dogs.

Not recommended.

I bought this novella. 

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