The Case of the Invisible Dog
A Shirley Homes Mystery #1
By Diane Stingley
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
After failing to launch her career as a Hollywood actress, Tammy Norman returns home to North Carolina, desperate for a regular paycheck and a new lease on life. So she accepts a position assisting Shirley Homes, an exceptionally odd personage who styles herself after her celebrated “ancestor”–right down to the ridiculous hat. Tammy isn’t sure how long she can go on indulging the delusional Shirley (who honestly believes Sherlock Holmes was a real person!), but with the prospect of unemployment looming, she decides to give it a shot.
Tammy’s impression of her eccentric boss does not improve when their first case involves midnight romps through strangers’ yards in pursuit of a phantom dog—that only their client can hear. But when the case takes a sudden and sinister turn, Tammy has to admit that Shirley Homes might actually be on to something. . . .(Goodreads)
Tammy has not been successful in her endeavor to become a famous actress and has returned home to North Carolina leaving a trail of bad decisions behind her. Having lost yet another low paying job, she is in desperate need of a steady paycheck when she sees Shirley Homes’ advertisement for an assistant. The application and odd interview process should have been a warning to Tammy of things to come, but desperate times do sometimes call for desperate measures.
Shirley is eccentric, to say the least, haughty, and egotistical. She believes that Sherlock Holmes was not just a fictional character but her great-great grandfather. She fancies herself following in his footsteps and sets up shop above a bakery. She has no private investigator license or experience but does seem to have money to spare. She finds her first client in Matt Peterman who is being kept awake at night by a barking dog, but there does not seem to be any dog around. Unfortunately, Matt is murdered, and Shirley feels obligated to continue sleuthing and solve the case of the invisible dog.
The Case of the Invisible Dog could have been a cute, light mystery that paid loving homage to Sherlock Holmes but, frankly, it was one of the worst books I have read in a very long time (and I read a lot). I would not have finished it had I not been obligated to write a review. I failed to see the comedy in the story, and the characters were unlikable and two-dimensionally cartoonish. Shirley is obnoxious and got on my nerves every time she opened her mouth. She obtusely got everything wrong. Tammy was annoying in her own right and, though she figured out the mystery, she came about the resolution way too late to appear intelligent. The writing itself was tedious, and the story took too long to unfold. Perhaps it would have made a better short story than novel. The supporting characters and suspects were equally shallow, uninteresting, and over-the-top. Even though one mystery is resolved here, a bigger mystery is introduced making the ending somewhat open-ended. Unfortunately, I do not care enough about it to read any further. Stick to the original Conan Doyle stories should you need a Sherlock fix. Devotees of Holmes will be insulted by this effort.