Glencoe, Illinois: A home invasion turned kidnapping at the mansion of billionaire financier Kenneth J. Druckman brings Mason “Mace” Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, to this wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Druckman was assaulted, left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom.
Brought to the scene by the FBI, Reid specializes in human remains detection, and Vira is the star of his pack of cadaver dogs he’s dubbed The Finders. After Vira finds the dead body of the mother, former supermodel Calley Kurtz, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing daughter before the five-year-old disappears forever. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself.
With the help of Detective Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira must race against the clock. Nothing is as it appears to be . . . and the red herrings could be lethal.
I’m really enjoying this series! Mace and Kippy are both characters I like—especially Mace with his self-deprecating humor—and obviously, Vira is amazing. I liked how the two separate storylines intwined, adding more nuance to both and, as always, I’m fascinated by the talents of cadaver dogs. This is a good, solid mystery.
Jeffrey B. Burton was born in California but now lives in St. Paul. The Lost is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)
Doug’s human, Julie, has been adrift since she lost her mom (which is strange, because she’s usually pretty good with directions). Doug just wants Julie to be happy, and he doesn’t think she’s going to get there while she’s seeing her married boss, Luke. What’s worse, she’s saying if things don’t work out with Luke, she might end up like her lonely cat-lady neighbor. Horrified by the prospect of a sad Julie and untrustworthy feline companion, Doug decides it’s time for an intervention.
Despite his short legs and some communication roadblocks, Doug sets out on a quirky, sweet, and hilarious mission to find his rescuer the love she deserves. Though he doesn’t totally understand the strangeness of human relationships, he knows he can’t give up on Julie – after all, being a rescue dog works both ways…
The voice of this novel—Doug’s—was quite funny, as the author did an excellent job of writing from the dog’s point-of-view. Honestly, the fact that Julie was dating a married man made me dislike her, and I never totally got over that or her almost willful blindness when it came to Luke, but eventually my annoyance faded into the background a bit. This was a quick, fun read with a unique viewpoint, and is good for an entertaining couple of hours.
Matt Dunn lives in London. Pug Actually is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)
While usually protective, Melanie feels comfortable sending her sons to the Graceland School’s summer camp for two reasons: The institution is well-regarded and proprietor Emily Grace is a trusted friend. But Emily has been acting strange since three rambunctious Dalmatian puppies suddenly appeared on her doorstep. The unusual arrival marks the first of several mysterious happenings at camp, each more intense than the last. Emily’s rough streak takes a frightening turn with a discovery in the nearby woods—the body of her estranged ex-husband.
As suspicions rush in, proving that Emily didn’t murder her biggest mistake will be about as easy as raising prize-winning show dogs. Realizing she’s the only one who can prove her friend’s innocence and keep the Graceland School from shutting down, Melanie dives into an investigation on the victim’s whereabouts leading up to his demise. With a few spotty clues and Aunt Peg’s growing curiosity about the Dalmatian pups’ origins, Melanie must name the culprit before good intentions come back to bite!
Is it bad if I say the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was the dogs? Because it was. Solid writing and storytelling, but I was never that invested in what was going on—and the stakes really didn’t seem that high. I never felt any tension in the mystery. Also…there were all these red herrings about other characters, but the real culprit(s) weren’t the slightest bit suspicious until about the 85% mark, so the reveal felt a bit forced and out-of-nowhere. Just my two cents, though. This wasn’t a bad read. Just not a good fit for me.
Laurien Berenson is a bestselling author. Pup Fiction is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.)