Thursday, December 28, 2023

Review: A Deadly Bone to Pick by Peggy Rothschild

I like dogs. I like mysteries that aren't too gory. And I definitely like it when the person investigating the murder has some actual credentials for doing so, even if they no longer work at whatever gave them the credentials in the first place. Peggy Rothschild's A Deadly Bone to Pick, the first in a new mystery series, has all of these things wrapped together in an easy to read story.

Molly Madison is an ex-cop and PI whose husband's death and the ensuing scandal caused her to flee to California from the East Coast. She and her lovely golden retriever Harlow are moving into her new place when they meet Noodle, the enthusiastic and drooly Berdoodle whose physician owner basically neglects the friendly but unruly dog. Molly offers to provide Noodle with training and doggie daycare and her reputation as a dog wrangler takes off. It turns out that interacting with their dogs is a good way to meet the neighbors. But then Noodle uncovers a severed hand on the beach while Molly is walking the dogs. Since the cops don't seem to be making any progress in solving that mystery, Molly leans on her training and starts asking around. But her involvement leads to more murders and an assault, all on people who Molly had interacted with recently and the snarly, unpleasant detective on the case would love nothing more than to pin everything on Molly. Now she has no choice but to keep looking into all of it to clear her own name.

There's a lot of interesting information on dog training and agility mixed in with the mystery of the severed hand and who is attacking and killing women in the neighborhood. The fact that Molly is just meeting people as a new transplant to the area means that the beginning of the book is full of background, slowing the plot significantly. Then the resolution is quite fast, although since uncovering the killer is fairly easy, that might be forgiven. Molly is an appealing character and her back story is sparingly revealed so as to keep her background mysterious as long as possible. The dogs are major players in the book but they are never anything more than dogs, not unreasonably intuitive or overly anthropormorphized, which is nice. Over all, this is a quick and pleasant afternoon read.

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