Friday, February 11, 2022

Bark If It’s Murder (Dog Club Mystery #3), by V.M. Burns

Lyrical Press, August 2019

This is a mystery where the amateur sleuths actually avoids doing anything pointlessly dangerous. Also, the dogs, large and small, are treated like real, normal dogs, and not stereotyped based on either size or breed by the author. That's a nice change, after some books with dogs I've read lately.

Lilly Ann Echosby has moved from Indiana to Tennessee. Her husband was murdered. These events were covered in the two previous books that I haven't read, but I had little difficulty picking up the essentials to follow the story. Lilly is a CPA, currently working at a museum in Chattanooga, getting them ready for tax time. She also owns a six-pound toy poodle named Aggie, whom the author, quite amazingly in my recent experience, depicts as a real, normal dog. Lilly and Aggie are even taking obedience classes--which is where Lilly has met most of her local friends.

When Lilly takes a trip to Atlanta with the museum head, she boards Aggie at a luxury pet facility, which, a big selling point for Lilly, has pet cams enabling the pet owners to check in on their pets whenever they wish. It's very reassuring for Lilly--right up until her late afternoon check-in from Atlanta, when there's a major electrical storm in Chattanooga. She loses the camera in Aggie's room, and after a moment is connected to a camera in another part of the facility. While watching that camera, briefly, she sees what appears to be a man strangling a woman. The man appears to be the male half of the couple who own the facility, and the woman appears to be the female half of the couple.

Lilly calls her maybe-boyfriend, who is a detective with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The local police are contacted, and investigation quickly reveals that the man was out of state, the woman is now out of state at a dog show, and nobody has been reported missing. Another employee, one Lilly had observed to be strangely familiar with her male boss, has seemingly quit abruptly.

What's going on?

What follows is a tricky investigation, with Lilly, but not the police, convinced that something is seriously wrong. She does, impressively for an amateur sleuth in a cozy mystery, avoid doing anything crazy dangerous. All there are mentions of Aggie having risked her life trying to protect her owner in a past adventure, she doesn't have to repeat that in this book.

And, oh, real dogs, and real dog owners, some of them even what I'd call real dog people. Real dogs of all sizes, and a total of three poodles. (The other two are standards.)

It's not a perfect book, but I really enjoyed it.

I bought this book.

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