My turn today to showcase The Deadly Dog Show by Jerold Last!!
Praise for The Deadly Dog Show
The main characters are a interesting bunch…This has a lot of violence, murder, drugs and hard to know who is the guilty ones till it is revealed.
The actual mystery did keep me guessing as did the subplot and related mysteries.
~Bea’s Book Nook
The Deadly Dog Show is both entertaining and educational. If you are an animal lover, this book should be on your TBR list. The rest of the ‘Roger and Suzanne’ books are going on my TBR list by the end of the day.
The Deadly Dog Show
(Roger and Suzanne South American Mystery Series Book 6)
Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Amazon (July 19, 2013)
The sixth book in the popular Roger and Suzanne mystery series finds Roger and Bruce hired to go undercover impersonating the owner and handler of a Champion German Shorthaired Pointer named Juliet to investigate certain irregularities that might be occurring at dog shows in California. To complicate this case the bodies of dead judges start popping up and Suzanne picks up a mysterious stalker sending her most unwelcome gifts. Throw in drug cartels and corrupt cops and it sounds like a typical job for our detective couple.
The Deadly Dog Show can be read as a stand-alone novel.
The author is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry writes mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing but feature tougher protagonists and darker worlds than most cozies. Jerry knows the real world of dog shows from his own experience and that of his wife, Elaine, who breeds and shows prize-winning German Shorthair Pointer dogs. The cover photo is the author’s own dog Jolie (Grand Champion V. D. Nacht’s Classic Beaujolais, SH). Elaine provided technical advice for The Deadly Dog Show and editing for all of his books.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jerold-A.-Last/e/B0028EKOIY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1
Twitter: @Jerold Last
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“The Dog With No Name”, which features Roger in his first case.
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Click “Continue Reading” to read Chapter 1 of The Deadly Dog Show
Chapter1. The client
The initial offer came from Sherry Wyne, the western regional representative of the American Kennel Club, on a bright sunny day in October without a trace of smog in a cloudless sky. The kind of day the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce tries to convince tourists to believe happens every day in Southern California. She came into my office in Century City in Los Angeles, exactly on time for her appointment. After standing in the doorway and removing her sunglasses she put them into a case in her purse and gave her eyes a moment to adjust.
Sherry walked over to the client chair, arranged it to her liking in front of my desk, and sat down gracefully. She glanced around the office seeing my desk with a computer monitor on top, the computer tower and a laser printer under the desk, the client chair she sat upon in front of my desk, and a couple of file cabinets against the wall. A partially filled coffee pot stood in an electric coffee maker on top of one of the cabinets. The opposite wall featured a large window with a great view of the Tehachapi Mountains to the north, and several of my various martial arts competition trophies on shelves on the walls. The office lacked any trace of elegance; it was functional and had a nice view. The implication was that I should be attracted to the offer of a big case.
Her voice had a hint of Western Canadian ancestry left far behind. I could hear it mainly as a hint of something different in her speech cadence, which was slower than typical for Los Angeles and included an occasional British usage, and in a few words that were pronounced differently, like “about”. “Good morning. Are you Roger Bowman, the investigator?”
I looked directly at a well-dressed woman in her early forties, very attractive with a suntan and an outdoorsy appearance despite wearing a typical dark gray business suit. “Yes, I am. How can I help you today? You didn’t tell me very much about what you needed done on the phone when we made this appointment.”
Sherry returned my direct look. Unlike 99% of the people who sat in that client chair, she looked very much at ease. “I’m here today on behalf of The American Kennel Club. Do you know anything aboot the organization?”
I wanted to say something like “Cut to the chase,” but knew from long experience that letting the client tell it the way they wanted to is faster in the long run than trying to get to the point immediately. So I settled for, “They run dog shows and define the rules for how pure-bred dogs get to be champions and recognized as high quality animals. They also maintain the registry for purebred dogs in the United States.”
“Close enough for starters,” replied Sherry. “We, and by we I mean the AKC, have a problem that we think you could help us with. But before I tell you what the problem is, I need to ask about your availability for a very complicated case. If you’re interested in our case and can make the time to do it I think I can promise you a very unusual change in a good way in your life style over the next few years.”
“You’re starting to intrigue me, Ms. Wyne. Tell me about this case. May I offer you a cup of coffee? It’s fresh ground from a blend I like a lot. I plan on having one myself.”
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Bowman. Black will be just fine.”
I poured two ceramic mugs of coffee, handed her one and kept the other, sat down behind my desk, put my feet up on the top of the lower drawer and leaned back, and looked like I was listening attentively.
Sherry shifted from the client to her all-business persona. Her body language said that she was now going to take charge of our meeting. She sipped a bit of coffee and began her story. “Let’s start with your schedule for the next couple of weeks, Mr. Bowman. I would need a commitment for your being willing to fly to New York City in the next week or so to meet with the AKC executives there while they tell you some details I don’t know and basically vet you for the job. If either you or they decide that you’re not the right investigator for what they want you’ll get all of your travel expenses reimbursed and you can bill the AKC for your regular fees for whatever time you spend traveling and interviewing. In addition, you may keep whatever money is left over from a retainer of $5,000 that I’ve been instructed to pay you today if you are willing to explore this job further. Will your current schedule allow you to visit our corporate headquarters in New York City, Mr. Bowman?”
From the standpoint of how much money I’d be paid, this would turn out to be, by far, my biggest case ever. So, I took it pretty much as it was offered to me. “Yes, my schedule is flexible for the next few weeks. I can delegate just about everything that needs doing in the office. I can fly to New York on short notice. What else can you tell me now?”
“If the AKC decision makers like you, and I’m pretty sure that they will, they’re going to make some strange requests. They haven’t told me what they plan to offer you in return for your agreeing to these requests, but I’d be glad to make a few suggestions if you’re interested.”
This interview was getting more and more intriguing. Sherry Wyne was very good at her job and had me completely hooked. “Sure, why not?”
Sherry leaned towards me, deliberately changing the mood from her interviewing me for a job to our being complicit in a plot. “First, they will ask you if you like dogs. The correct answer to that question is a strong yes. Do you like dogs, Mr. Bowman?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Do you have a favorite breed, Mr. Bowman?”
“Yes. If I were buying a dog I’d get a German Shorthaired Pointer.”
“That’s a perfect answer, Mr. Bowman. Can I call you Roger?”
I can play the body language game too. I leaned towards Sherry and became a co-conspirator. “Sure.”
Sherry’s voice became more enthusiastic. “I don’t know if you checked me out and knew the right answer to my question or whether the stars are aligned perfectly and the gods favor you as our lead investigator on this case, but I don’t think it matters. In addition to being the AKC regional representative for the western region, which means I attend all of the AKC-sanctioned dog shows in the region and handle any problems that might arise on behalf of the organization, I breed show and hunting dogs. I’m based in Sacramento, California and breed some of the best German Shorthaired Pointers in Northern California. Part of the deal the AKC is going to want from you is that you get a dog and start showing it at most or all of the western regional shows. Can I make a suggestion here?”
“Your suggestion would be most welcome.”
Sherry stood up and started to walk over to the window, looking out at the mountains to the north of my office. “You may have to do some tough negotiating when you meet Harold Carswell in New York City because this is going to cost the AKC a lot of money, but if I were you I’d demand first that you want a dog that can win at these dog shows, so you want to borrow one of my finished champions for the duration of this job. I’d suggest Juliet. They’ll know which bitch I mean; she has the potential to become a top ten winning bitch in the country. You can be the rich dilettante sponsoring a winning dog who wants to show Juliet as a special so she qualifies for the Eukanuba and Westminster Kennel Club shows as your cover for going to all of the dog shows. In that arrangement you should ask the AKC to cover all of your costs: entry fees for each show, handling fees, and transportation and lodging to and from the shows for you, your family, and your professional handler. I’d also ask them aboot their covering the cost of a puppy that you and I would choose from Juliet’s next litter so you can maintain your cover as a dog fancier if the AKC ever needs your services in the future.
“As you can guess from what I just told you, the AKC is going to want to hire you for the entire upcoming cycle of Western regional dog shows. On the west coast, that means almost the entire year, with a break between Thanksgiving and mid-January. This could be a part-time or full-time job depending on your needs, since the dog shows are generally on the weekends or else run from Thursday to Sunday or Monday. The AKC can afford to pay you whatever you ask, so you may want to think aboot what would work best for you in terms of part-time versus full-time work for at least a year, maybe longer, before you get to that interview.”
I looked pensively at the mountains through the window behind my potential new client. “Can you tell me what this case is all about, Sherry?”
She walked back from the window and sat down in the client chair while finishing her cup of coffee. “You make very good coffee, Roger. I apologize in advance for this answer, but no. I’m not being coy here; I honestly don’t know. I know that something is wrong on our western show circuit, but it’s just a feeling I have and that I’ve discussed with the AKC corporate folks. I don’t know how much more they might know than I’ve been told.”
I fiddled with some papers on my desktop. “Why me, Sherry? How did you find your way to me as a possible detective? Surely the AKC hires private detectives from all over the United States routinely for security jobs.”
“The AKC decided that whoever we hired had to be an outsider who lived in the region, preferably in California, and who nobody knew on the local dog show circuit. They wanted someone who wouldn’t be recognized as an investigator and couldn’t possibly be involved in whatever is going on, so they asked me to find someone who fit those requirements. I found you by chance, partially because your wife Suzanne had made some inquiries from me about buying a dog last year and partially because your name came up when I asked for suggestions from a police investigator I know in Los Angeles, Charlie Brown. You apparently met each other on a murder case you both worked on in Los Angeles last year. It was as simple as that. I had a highly recommended private investigator whose wife was interested in one of my dogs. Your name jumped up to the top of my list. And here we are.”
This was getting more and more interesting. I tried to rein in my enthusiasm until our little negotiation was completed. “What do you mean by feeling something is wrong on your dog show circuit, Sherry?”
Sherry got up from the client chair again and started to pace. “I don’t really know. One thing is that we breeders have a pretty good idea of which dogs in the group we know well are the best structurally and temperamentally and which dogs should win if they’re handled properly in the show ring. Different judges are idiosyncratic and look for different styles of dogs to pick as winners, so you can never know for sure which specific animal will win on any given day, but a good breeder can usually guess which dogs will win most of the time. The wrong dogs have been winning too often. Not so often that it’s obvious, but often enough for me to feel that something isn’t right.
“Another thing is that all dog handlers are not created equal, and some are better than others. Those top handlers tend to get the best dogs to handle. The wrong handlers are winning too often as well. And if I were going to cheat at a dog show I’d bribe the judge to select my dog to get the points. The AKC is especially concerned that there’s never any reason that a rumor that a judge has been corrupted could start, and that the integrity of the dog show is never open to compromise on that basis.”
We talked for another 30 minutes about timing, logistics, and the whole dog show lifestyle. The more Sherry told me, the more I liked the whole idea. Suzanne would be easy to sell on it; she wanted our son Robert to grow up with a pet dog in the house. The problem for me would be finding time to go to a dozen or more shows, and for our busy family finding the time to go to any dog shows together. I wasn’t so sure about Robert’s nanny, Bruce, who would have to do most of the training, dog walking, and poop scooping. That might turn out to be a hard sell.
Sherry gave me a business card with her cell phone number written by hand on the back, shook hands good-bye, and told me that she would be in touch with details of when and where my meeting with the AKC management would be held.