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I am delighted to share my thoughts today about Sniffing Out Murder today!
Sniffing Out Murder (A Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery)
by Kallie E. Benjamin
About Sniffing Out Murder
Sniffing Out Murder (A Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Indiana
Berkley (December 5, 2023)
Paperback : 352 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593547357
ISBN-13 : 978-0593547359
Digital ASIN : B0BXKHGG75
When a murder unleashes a widespread investigation through Crosbyville, children’s book author Pris and her trusty bloodhound, Bailey, must sniff out the truth before the whole town goes to the dogs.
After deciding that life as a teacher wasn’t right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children’s book in her three-year-old bloodhound’s nose for truth, and so The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book’s massively pawsitive response led Pris to move back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana, to continue the series, she’s surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven’t.
Pris is frustrated to discover that newly elected school board trustee Whitney Kelley—a former high school mean girl—is intent on making Crosbyville more competitive by eliminating “frivolous spending” on the arts and social programs, including Pris and Bailey’s beloved pet-assisted reading program. A minor altercation between them isn’t anything unusual, but after Bailey sniffs out Whitney’s body in a bed of begonias, locals start hounding Pris and Bailey as suspects for the crime.
With Bailey’s sharp senses and Pris’s hometown know-how, can they prove to the community that they’re all barking up the wrong tree?
Priscilla Cummings has found success as an author with her first children’s book, The Case of the Missing Maltese, an Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound, Pet Detective story. So successful that she is giving up her career as a teacher. She has saved what she knows is going to be the hardest parent-teacher conference as the last thing to do before she leaves the school as a member of the staff. Joe and Whitney Kelly’s adopted daughter, Clarice is very smart but hasn’t applied herself and Pris believes she needs to be held back. The parents blame her as a teacher and her bloodhound who is part of a reading program at the school for distracting their daughter.
Later Pris and Bailey go to the Blue Plate Special Cafe owned by her aunt Agatha for some chowder and a BLT without the T but plenty of B. Her meal is ruined when the Kelly’s make an appearance and cause trouble. Whitney vows to use her position as chairwoman of the school board to ruin Pris and cancel the reading program along with the art and music classes, calling them unneeded “fluff”. Pris attempts to tell her how important these programs are and they have a minor argument that gets blown all out of proportion when the new Chief of Police Gilbert Morgan walks in with his daughter. Not everyone saw what Whitney did to start the chaos but the drama queen acted all innocent trying to blame Pris and her dog.
Pris then finds herself in the hot seat when an early morning walk has Bailey the Bloodhound sniffing out a murder, and digging up the body of none other than Whitney Kelly.
Prepare to have your heart stolen by Bailey the Bloodhound. It is a stubborn breed especially when they catch a scent. Nose to the ground the hound is at work but when he is ready to play he is a gentle 100-pound giant with a whole lot of drool. A loyal inquisitive dog he always seems to be ready for his next adventure. His person Pricilla, was inspired by him to not only write stories featuring him but she also started a pet-assisted reading program letting children read to Bailey. She also takes him to library, to show off his special skills. She is inquisitive herself which comes in handy to do a little amateur sleuthing. Her Aunt Agatha has her back no matter what and I loved that. Her best friend, Marcie, is also a teacher and a lot of fun. I was not a fan of Chief of Police Gilbert Morgan until I got to know some of his backstory and his delightful daughter Hannah. He is a by-the-books kind of guy from Chicago so he needs to find his place and understand the ways of small-town life. I enjoyed meeting all these characters and like that even for the first book in a series, they have depth.
Set in the small town of Crosbyville, Indiana, we meet several of its residents that are all tied in different ways to what is happening in the story. The cast is very diverse and typical of what you would find in any midwestern small town. The good, the bad, and sometimes the creepy or entitled. I hope to see the good ones in future stories.
Ms. Benjamin sets a brisk pace with short chapters and she plotted out a sharp mystery. Pris is on the suspect list but there are several other viable suspects. Whitney Kelly was an awful person and had made some enemies. I was suspicious of all of them. As Pris investigated she did put a target on her own back but then clues for me started to fall into place. One character stood out but I wasn’t sure about their motive until it was all spelled out. The killer did make a big mistake when they tried to get rid of some loose ends. The showdown was tense. A unique lesson came into play and some high school talents saved the day. I absolutely loved the way the ending played out.
Sniffing Out Murder is a delightful lighthearted mystery with appealing characters and a sweet adorable bloodhound. I am excited to see what Ms. Benjamin has planned for her characters next and what kind of trouble Bailey’s sniffer finds.
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About Kallie E. Benjamin
Kallie E. Benjamin (Valerie Burns) is the author of the Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery series. The first book, Sniffing Out Murder releases on December 5, 2023. Valerie is an Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. Writing as V. M. Burns she is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery, Dog Club Mystery, and RJ Franklin Mystery series. Writing as Valerie Burns, she is the author of the Baker Street Mystery series. Valerie is also an adjunct professor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie now lives in Northern Georgia with her two poodles.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”