On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Doggone Dead (The 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries)
1st in Series
Setting – Oregon
Publisher : Lyrical Underground (August 25, 2020)
Paperback : 183 pages
ISBN-10 : 151611017X
ISBN-13 : 978-1516110179
Kindle ASIN : B07ZPL51NL
Retired high school teacher Gwen Franklin has a new pet valet business with her BFF, and a whole new leash on life. But a killer is about to come sniffing around . . .
Gwen Franklin is looking forward to spending her retirement drinking her favorite coffee and reading mystery novels. Those peaceful plans are brought to heel by her best friend, Nora. Sporting stiletto heels, leggings, and a “more is better” makeup routine, fifty-something Nora Goldstein has a penchant for marrying—and divorcing—rich men. Now that Gwen’s got free time, Nora figures they should start a dog-walking and pet-sitting service together.
But it’s far from a walk in the park when the corpse of Linda Fletcher is found in Nora’s kitchen. Linda was Nora’s nemesis, and the large knife protruding from her chest points to murder. With no doubt that her bestie’s being framed, Gwen puts her sleuthing skills—acquired from reading every Agatha Christie mystery—to the test as she digs through suspects, including four disgruntled ex-husbands, ten greedy ex-stepchildren, not to mention all her exes’ exes. But with death threats and another body surfacing, can Gwen curb a killer before her own (dog) days come to an end?
Gwen Franklin has retired from teaching and is looking forward to sleeping in and relaxing with some good mystery books and her favorite cup of coffee. But her best friend Nora Goldstein has other ideas. She calls and wakes Gwen up early with another harebrained scheme. She has summoned Gwen to The Friendly Bean to tell her all about it.
Nora has decided Gwen now has plenty of time on her hands so it is the perfect time for the two women to go into business together and her big idea is a pet-setting service that includes dog walking. She is excited about all the money they will be raking in even though Nora already has her own fortune collected from the several exes she has left behind. Gwen has to be careful, she can only earn so much money before it affects her pension and she is severely allergic to animals including dogs. But Nora doesn’t seem to care, they head back to Nora’s condo to firm up the details to promote the new business over a cup of tea.
But their plans are going to have to wait. The dead body of Nora’s neighbor and arch enemy Linda Fletcher is lying in a pool of blood on Nora’s kitchen floor with a knife protruding from her chest. Gwen knows her friend is pushy and can be overbearing but she wouldn’t kill someone, especially in her immaculate kitchen. Also, her reaction is not an act, her face goes pale and she is trembling like a leaf. That means someone is trying to frame her for the crime.
Nora’s extended family starts dropping in thinking Nora was the one killed and being sadly disappointed. Some are quickly dealt with but most want to know what they will inherit when Nora does kick the bucket and if there was any way they could get their inheritance now.
Gwen knows her retirement is going to include some amateur sleuthing to clear her friend. Sleuthing that could make her the killer’s next victim.
I really didn’t like Nora. A best friend would have allowed her friend to at least enjoy being retired for a few days. Plus she comes across as a very entitled woman with more money than sense. She is rude to everyone including Gwen. She has been married and divorced several times and comes out richer after each relationship. She also dresses like a 20-year old on high stiletto heels and wears make-up applied with a trowel instead of a gentle hand. But Gwen has known her since childhood and has stood by her and has let her bowl over her for years. I would expect a retired school teacher who has dealt with a room full of children would have more backbone.
We also meet Brent, a former student of Gwen’s who was a crazy uber driver. They hire him to do most of the work for Nora’s new business scheme. The ladies try to do some pet sitting themselves but it doesn’t go well. It is kinda comical though.
The mystery does have several suspects but it is overshadowed by the craziness of the pet sitting business and all the stepchildren coming to call. The clues to the mystery are dropped haphazardly through the story until the big reveal of the killer. I am happy to say I did have the culprit as number one on my suspect list but I need more of the motive explained which happened at the end.
I did enjoy the ending very much with the two main characters in a happy place in very different ways. Gwen had some redeeming qualities that won me over but the verdict is still out on Nora.
Doggone Dead is an interesting start for this series. There are some very quirky characters and some endearing pets. There was a lot of madcap comedy which I really enjoyed. I would have liked a stronger mystery but for the first book in a series, the author did a great job of introducing the characters. I am looking forward to seeing what hijinks they get up to next.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About Dana McCaslin
McCaslin began a life-long love of mysteries at a very young age. She bypassed Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and went straight for Agatha Christie, thanks to her mother’s library books. Dane is retired from a twenty-plus-year career in teaching high school and college English, and she uses her newfound freedom to read for pleasure, write mysteries, and smell the roses.
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