book reviews

Great Dog Stories

NetGalley continues to deliver great reading material. Here are a few more I received from them that I loved:

  1. Chet and Bernie–a detective series you won’t want to miss, told from the dog’s perspective
  2. Striking Range–working dog Robo solves another crime
  3. Under Pressure–working dog Hawk and his partner must solve another crime; he makes sure they do
–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

The Chet and Bernie series

by Spencer Quinn

BTW–I got the idea for the stars from Mae Clair, book blogger (From the Pen of Mae Clair), talented author, and good efriend. I like how visual it is. Mae adds stars for all books but I’ll only do them for 5/5 books. That’ll make it easy for you to find that category.

The twelve-book (and counting) Chet and Bernie series is about a one-hundred+ pound smart and devoted dog (Chet)–who flunked out of K-9 school–and his intensely-moral, highly-competent human (Bernie) who together operate The Little Detective Agency. They solve murders, find lost people, fix what’s broken, and Bernie sometimes falls in love. What makes this series my close-to-favorite detective series of all times is that it’s told from the perspective of Chet. He’s clever, talented, curious, ever-positive in his attitude, and adores his human partner who he sees as perfect. The affection is returned. Chet is generally upbeat even when circumstances are dire which makes these mysteries low-stress despite being dramatic detective stories filled with thrills and intrigue. It doesn’t bother me at all that Chet is more cerebral than I expect a dog really is. For example, he understands most of what Bernie says though inferences and allusions befuddle him. But, NYT bestselling author Spencer Quinn is such a good storyteller I willingly suspend my disbelief in that.

Thank you to NetGalley and Forge Books for providing me with a review copy of Quinn’s latest in this series, It’s a Wonderful Woof. This is another great entry in this indominable series. Quinn has one more coming out August, 2022 which I will be reading as soon as I can!

If you’re looking for a new favorite detective series and you love dogs, this is it.


Striking Range

by Margaret Mizushima

4/5

In Margaret Mizushima’s Striking Range (Crooked Lane Books 2021), Timber Creek Deputy Mattie Cobb is headed to Colorado State prison to interrogate an inmate who might have critical information related to the thirty-two-year-old-cold case of her father’s death but when she arrives there, he’s found murdered in his cell. She and her K-9 partner, Robo, are assigned to investigate it with another cold case detective, Jim Hauck. Unrelated to this case, a young nine-month pregnant girl is found dead and without her baby. No one knows if the baby is alive or died in child birth so Mattie and Robo need to track the infant down while there’s still time.

This is the seventh in the fast-moving, dramatic, and dog-centric Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. This one has a particularly good opening line:

“Today Deputy Mattie Cobb could interrogate the man who had once tried to kill her.”

Deputy Mattie Cobb has exactly my attitude toward dogs. She respects them, considers them best friends, and would never choose her life over theirs. Here are a few lines I loved:

“…weighed in at around one hundred pounds. This high-energy male shepherd was her constant companion, not only her partner but also her best friend.”

“Talking to Robo always settled her nerves, so she explained to him what was going to happen next.”

“Her German shepherd partner, Robo, heaved himself up from his cushion where he’d been sleeping and dropped his shoulders into a long stretch. His pink tongue curled and his sharp teeth glistened as he yawned until his throat squeaked.”

What annoyed me in this story, unlike earlier books in the series, is that it spotlights the too-oft repeated fiction plot of a family member killed long ago that weighs so on the main character that they obsess over it and/or must find out the truth. I liked this plot line the first ten times I read it but now, I want something more creative out of writers. I was happy that within the first chapters, she moved on to a different plotline.

Margaret Mizushima has a good voice that pulls me in as a reader and does a nice job of developing the plot at the right pace. But, in this story, I think if not for Robo, her working dog partner, it would have been a bit bland. Hearing how he tracks criminals and prepares himself for his job is fascinating and never gets old.  Other than that, in this particular book, I didn’t find enough creativity or clever plot twists to carry a Robo-free story. Still, it’s a good read and worthy.


Under Pressure

by Sara Driscoll

4/5

In Under Pressure, Book 9 of Sara Driscoll’s FBI K-9 series (Kensington 2021), FBI K-9 handler Meg Jennings and her working dog Hawk are called in to help crack a case that deals with conflict diamonds. In an effort to stop the trade of these immoral diamonds in the US, the FBI wants to catch the buyers as well as the sellers, easiest done at a sale while it’s happening. They have an inside man but it would endanger him to try to contact him for details of the meet so they get the clever idea of having Hawk and another K9 Lacy follow his scent to the meet and then arrest the buyer. When it doesn’t work as planned, the criminals now have an inkling that something isn’t right which makes the case much harder to solve.

This story, like the entire series, is fast moving with interesting characters and a focus on working dogs. Each chapter starts with a factoid about the diamond industry, a little cutesy but interesting. While I enjoy the storyline and the characters, one part that started bothering me maybe last book and continues into this one is that Meg  has become a tad smug about her talents, willing to judge other agents or make decisions that shouldn’t be hers to make, even order agents around when she doesn’t really have that authority. That’s why the book lost a point and for me, became a bit tiresome to read–not so much that I didn’t finish it. I love Hawk.

Recommended for those who enjoy stories about working dogs.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022 

56 thoughts on “Great Dog Stories

  1. Thank you for the great reviews of dog stories, Jacqui! I agree with your that dogs are partners. Sometimes dogs can do what people can’t do in many situation. They don’t talk but they have a great way to show love and ask for love that make humans feel important. I was visited by service dogs when in the hospital. I like the idea of stars. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Great Dog Stories – Adams Exports

  3. Great reviews, Jacqui. I always enjoy books that employ dogs, especially in a partnership role with a character. These sound excellent.
    Many thanks too for the awesome shout-out. I’m glad you liked the stars. Wonderful to see them here 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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