Sit, Slay, Stay
Dog Club Mystery #5
By V. M. Burns
Author’s website: vmburns.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When her best friend Dixie is suspected of killing a dog show judge, Lilly must bring one sick puppy to heel . . .
Tennessee transplant Lilly Echosby has two great loves: dogs and mysteries. So naturally she’s named her poodles Aggie, after Agatha Christie, and Rex, for Rex Stout. Now that she has two dogs to manage, it makes sense to enter Aggie in an obedience competition–especially since her instructor is Lilly’s gal pal, Scarlet “Dixie” Jefferson.
But when one of the judges for the competition turns out to be Dixie’s high school rival, the dog trainer gets hot under the collar. When the woman is found strangled, Dixie becomes the number one suspect. With the help of the other dog club members, Lilly must find the real killer–before the next judge Dixie tangles with throws the book at her . . .
Sit, Slay, Stay is a great addition to this series! I always look forward to visiting Lilly and Dixie for several reasons. The mystery is excellent, the long-term friendship between Lilly and Dixie show the value of our friends, and Lilly’s move to Chattanooga gives courage to the faint of heart who want to start their lives over. This series is also a great place to learn about dogs, including training and showing them and the loyalty between human and canine. And, in between the serious subjects, it is funny, and reflects the joy of sweet Southern life.
Lilly has two toy poodles that she adores, a job she loves, a membership at a dog club, real friends, and a great guy in her life. She realizes how much her life has changed and that she has found her happy place. Lilly is part of Dixie’s dog training group. The group is having a mock trial to show the owners and dogs what to expect when going to a real trial in a couple weeks. Lilly brought Aggie to the mock trial. One of the judges, Naomi, decided at the last minute that she would not waive her fee for judging. Further, she disqualified every one of the dogs brought by Dixie’s class members; the first-place winner did something that was an automatic disqualification that Naomi overlooked!
Furious, Dixie went to have words with her in the office, but the only thing accomplished was Naomi insulting her more. Dixie then entered one of her beloved, retired champions. Unfortunately, Naomi judged Chyna, also, and treated the dog poorly, even purposely stepping on the dog’s foot. The crowd was very upset at everything Naomi did; when Dixie, the ultimate Southern belle, slugged Naomi, the crowd cheered. She further threatened to strangle Naomi if she ever touched one of her dogs again.
Naomi’s day didn’t get any better. Her stepdaughter came in and poured syrup all over her. A woman went to Naomi’s RV. June had learned that Naomi was having an affair with her husband and told her to stay away from him or she would kill Naomi.
Shortly before they planned to leave, Monica Jill, a woman from Dixie’s class, went back into the building and found Naomi dead. Dr. Morgan, the coroner, along with his dog, is also one of Dixie’s clients, and found Naomi had been strangled with a lead used with dogs in certain events. By the next night, the pressure came down for Red, Lilly’s boyfriend and an investigator with TBI, to arrest Dixie as the suspect in Naomi’s murder. Red will only be able to hold the director off for so long while they look for the real killer. Lilly helped solved several murders since coming here; this time she has to keep her friend from being framed for murder.
It has been a joy to see the characters grow through the series, especially Lilly. The woman who moved to Tennessee a year ago has changed. A lot. Her life is better than she dreamed it could be. She is grateful for all she has. This can be read as a standalone, as there is sufficient backstory on Lilly, Dixie, and boyfriend Red. In addition, this time we will get to watch Lilly prepare to meet Red’s mama and five sisters and their families. The romance does not overwhelm the mystery; the author achieves a perfect balance of mystery, relationships, and the dogs.
I particularly enjoyed this cozy mystery. I found it interesting to read more about showing dogs. It helps me understand more about the dog shows we see on television and gain a new appreciation for the love and dedication the owners lavish on their pets. The characters invited me in on the first page and kept me fascinated throughout. Plot twists keep the mystery moving quickly, especially as several people had good reason to want Naomi out of the way. I looked at a couple likely red herrings, but kept coming back to the same bad guys, at least until one of them was the next murder victim. The novel has a satisfying ending with loose ends tied up. I highly recommend it!