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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review - Death In Show


I am an animal lover so I had been interested in this series since I stumbled across it.  I jumped at the chance to read and review the latest entry in the series when the book was sent to me.  Besides, I am one of the people who actually watches the dog shows on television and routes for my favorite so the subject and setting immediatly appealed to me.


Author: Judi McCoy


Copyright: June 2010 (Signet); 317 pgs

Series: #3 in The Dog Walker Mysteries

Sensuality: sexual references of a Chic Lit variety

Mystery sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character:  Professional dog walker Ellie Engleman

Setting: Current day New York

Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review
 
Ellie can hear dogs thoughts and her ability has made her a popular dog walker.  One of Ellie's dog walking clients invites her to be a guest at the dog show and witness her dog in competition.  Lulu, the snooty prize-winning Havanese is competing at the Mid-Atlantic Canine Challenge with hopes riding on her to go all the way to Westminster.  But during the very first competition Lulu's handler drops dead before a stadium of witnesses.  Ellie's elderly client pleads with Ellie to fill in as handler for Lulu despite her longtime fears of being on display in front of people.  Ellie's boyfriend, Detective Sam Ryder, becomes demanding about Ellie not getting involved in the suspicious death and sparks fly.  Ellie naturally ends up conducting her own investigation while she is showing Lulu and continues after the awards are presented and finds out just how serious the competition is.
 
The book is hefty for a cozy with 317 pages but managed to keep moving along.  The plot was crafted well enough to be interesting and the murder "weapon" was a nice twist on an old theme.  This book proves that a cozy does not have to be set in a small town.  The high rise clients and their pets that Ellie walks create a community background for the cozy.  This author also injects a bit of her chick lit publishing background into the story with the running theme of "when will Ellie and Sam sleep together again?" which I felt got old.  Apart from that, we see their relationship go through spats and even a meeting of the parents.
 
Ellie makes a likeable main character, although not best friend material for me.  She is spunky and bright, but a few times came across as dense - even her dog Rudy told her so!  She is totally a dog person and at one point shares how she feels dogs are better than cats.  I am a cat lover, but I didn't take offense.  She just hasn't been introduced to the correct felines.  Ellie's main motivations are a sense of loyalty to her clients and their pets.  
Ellie opened her mouth, then swallowed a gasp of air.  "Me?"  Oh, no.  I couldn't.  I don't know a thing about the job.  I'm inept, a klutz.  I'd trip over my own feet."
 
Flora patted Ellie's hand, then held tight to her fingers.  "Nonsense.  You observed everything that went on before and during the competition.  I could tell from your comments you understand exactly what's entailed in becoming a professional handler.  You already walk Lulu and she loves you."
 
"I wouldn't go that far," Lulu gruffed.
 
"But - but - the judges don't know me.  I'd have no credibility," she said, hoping to squelch the ridiculous notion.  "I'd only hinder Lulu's chances of winning."
 
"Hold on!  Let's think this through," yipped the Havanese.
I enjoyed the elderly Flora and her prima donna dog Lulu.  But the character of boyfriend Sam didn't particularly win me over.  There are a few scenes from Sam's point of view to show he isn't just being demanding of Ellie but actually is concerned about her safety.  But even with those scenes I wasn't convinced I liked him.  I am in good company though, Ellie's dog Rudy doesn't like him either.  Perhaps it is just that I have grown very tired of the conflict in stories being over the sleuth poking around in the first place.  
 
The killer was rather easy to identify and for the most part the how is fairly easy too - but with a creative twist.  This is a solid cozy for fans of that particular sub-genre, but I suspect it may not be able to cross over to the amateur sleuth fan due to the talking-to-dogs factor.  If you are a dog lover or ever watch the dog shows on TV, you will find the details in this book interesting.





 
For the complete video of the 2010 Westminster finale - Best of show, click here
 


 
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4 comments:

Mystica said...

When I saw the words a professional dog walker I wanted to read more. I had not heard of such a occupation so would love to know more!

Mystica said...

When I saw the words a professional dog walker I wanted to read more. I had not heard of such a occupation so would love to know more!

Michele Emrath said...

Gotta say this one doesn't "speak" to me. Then again, I don't like talking animals...Glad you enjoyed it!

Michele

A.F. Heart said...

I would have enjoyed it more without the Chick Lit aspects to be honest - that knocked it down a notch for me.

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