by Eileen Brady

Poisoned Pen Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-464-20186-8.
Reviewed by Judy Alter
Posted on 07/16/2014

Fiction: Mystery

In her first adventure, veterinarian Kate Turner runs into puzzling deaths and lots of dogs. She's covering the practice of an older doctor in a small upstate New York town while he's away on an extended trip. Everywhere she turns, Kate sees plots and devious schemes, and she begins to suspect almost everyone in town of murder.

It all begins when she discovers an elderly pair of dog breeders, apparently shot while having tea in their palatial home. Police dismiss it as a murder/suicide but Kate's convinced that's not the case. For one thing the Langthornes. twenty-seven champion Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were running loose in the house, something the dignified, aloof couple never allowed. And there was a dog missing—Kate is sure the dog she treated before was not among the ones she examined for Animal Control, yet the head count was the same. Someone had substituted another dog for their million-dollar champion stud. The Langhornes. adopted daughter is nothing if not difficult and unpleasant, further complicating the situation. And then a trainer is shot while showing a dog in the ring.

Because I love dogs and had a brief, not very successful fling at the dog show world, I know a bit of what Kate means when she wonders, "How do you explain dog show people to people from the real world?" I found the parts about treating animals, especially the dogs, fascinating and detailed.

The veterinarian practice, which includes Eileen Brady and her husband, sometimes overrides the mystery and diminishes the tension, slowing the pace a bit. When the deaths slip into the background for too long, Kate comes up with a new theory or suspect. Kate is a typical cozy heroine in many ways: single, full of self-deprecating remarks, a bit unsure of herself, and an amateur with a business life having nothing to do with mysteries or law enforcement. She's also still mooning over her last boss who makes a cameo appearance and proves himself a real cad.

The reader may well feel, "Really, Kate? You moon over him?" As it will turn out, she is a pretty poor judge of character. There is no active romantic involvement in this first of the series but there are hints that it may come in future books. Kate would welcome that.

The mystery definitely takes over toward the end of the book, and Kate finds herself in real danger, so real that readers will bite their nails while turning pages. And, fittingly, Kate is saved in part through the efforts of a parrot and a dog. A satisfying final chapter wraps up all the details in a nice package.

I enjoyed this book and couldn't wait to have time to get back to it. But I expect to like the second outing of Kate Turner even more.

A veterinarian for over twenty years, Eileen Brady lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her veterinarian husband and their two daughters, plus several four-legged family members. This is her first mystery and she is currently working on a sequel. Visit her website.

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