Paw And Order
Dog Club Mystery #4
By V. M. Burns
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Dog-loving divorce and amateur sleuth Lilly Echosby is not the only one who wants her new foster poodle. Some are willing to kill to have him . . .
Lilly’s best pal Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson has done it again! She’s convinced eccentric poodle-loving billionaire Archibald Lowry to sponsor a grand fundraiser for the Eastern Tennessee Poodle Rescue. Tragically, it’s too late to rescue Lowry, who is murdered at the event. His pet poodle is now orphaned, so Dixie begs Lilly to foster the adorable pup. Of course, she already has a poodle–her beloved Aggie, named after Agatha Christie. Fortunately, Aggie seems to like the new addition to the family, whom Lilly renames Rex, after her second favorite mystery author, Rex Stout.
But she’s barely welcomed Rex into her home when there’s an attempted poodle-nabbing, foiled with Aggie’s help. As desperate characters try to get their hands on the canine cutie, Lilly turns to Dixie’s dog training class to help her sort through a litter of suspects. Ultimately, she may have to unleash Rex as bait to collar the killer . . . (from Goodreads)
I greatly enjoyed this latest in the Dog Club Mystery series. There is suspense and laugh-out-loud humor, characters who are genuinely likable, and a mystery that keeps the best dog club sleuths on their toes! I was sad, however, to see who the victim was, as I would have liked to get to know him better. Even though I had figured out who may have been involved with the crime, I didn’t figure out the full range of motives.
Dixie and Lilly have been best friends since their college days. After her husband left her, then was murdered, Lilly left Lighthouse Bay, Indiana to move to Chattanooga, Tennessee where Dixie and her husband, Beau, live. Dixie has been in the world of poodle competitions and training for many years, and now primarily does training and judging. Lilly now has an adorable toy poodle, Aggie, who she takes to Dixie’s training school.
The benefit for the East Tennessee Poodle Rescue has its opening night at the museum where Lilly works, and the next day will be at the estate of the eccentric, wealthy Archibald Lowry, a poodle lover and recluse. If he does venture out from home, he does so only if accompanied by his beloved poodle. When he arrived at opening night of the fundraising event, it was to a stunned Dixie who took it well in stride. Archibald had a new poodle pup with a name bigger than him! Indulf is the offspring of one of his former dogs, and immediately takes to Lilly. A short time later, little Indulf, separated from his owner, ran to Lilly and leaped into her arms. She and Red, her boyfriend who works for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, begin to search for Archibald when a scream brings them running to find the Scotsman, lying dead in a pool of blood.
The woman who screamed said she saw him when leaving the restroom. Red sent Lilly to keep an eye on her. Fiona Darling, a PI, seemed scared at first, and knows something she clearly won’t reveal to either the local police or Red. She had seen Lowry arguing with someone, but the person he argued with was out of sight behind a pillar. He then saw the person hit the dead man in the face before stabbing him. Despite being at a poodle show, she asked what kind of dog Indulf is – was she really hear for the fundraiser?
Lilly is afraid of losing her job over the murder in and publicity for the museum. Friends and fellow training class members Monica Jill and BJ tell her she has only one choice – find who killed the poor man. Having helped find murderers in the past, Lilly just isn’t ready to get involved again.
The next day, Dixie picked Lilly up for the second day of activities, this time for judging at Archibald’s estate. His attorney allowed it to continue. Persuasive as she is, Dixie also talked Lilly into fostering the darling little Indulf, who if he were Lilly’s dog, she would call Rex – after Rex Stout, of course! Fortunately, Aggie and Rex get along very well.
One of the first discoveries made is that Achibald changed his will substantially. Instead of leaving his estate to previously named charities and his visiting distant relatives from Scotland, he made bequests to his staff members and charities, with the bulk of his estate going to the Poodle rescue. Next, the Kilpatricks, the Scottish cousins, want the pampered poodle as a memorial to their dear Archibald, and offer a ridiculous amount for him – far more than any pup is worth. Someone tries to steal Rex from Lilly’s back yard. And one of Lowry’s staff members is murdered. They need to find a killer, fast.
The regular characters are three-dimensional, people I would enjoy knowing were they real. They are intelligent, personable, and are willing to put themselves out to help others. There is nothing Dixie and Lilly can’t accomplish when they get their heads together. Add in Lilly’s adult daughter, Stephanie, and their respective guys, and they are a force to be reckoned with!
The story is fast-paced and flows well. Plot twists and turns make the mystery even more interesting. This armchair sleuth was able to guess part of the solution, needing help on the motive and another part of it – which didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it at all, as there were still aspects that surprised me! The conclusion was very satisfying, leaving no loose ends. I highly recommend it!