Dog Crazy: A Novel of Love Lost and Found by Meg Donohue
(William Morrow, 2015)
Maggie Brennan is a gifted pet bereavement counselor for patients who’ve lost a a four-footed friend. She has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations.
Leaving a job and a relationship, Maggie moves from Philadelphia to San Francisco, but when her retriever mix dog Toby dies, she becomes unable to leave her home. Suffering from agoraphobia, fortunately Maggie’s living in the same building as her old friend Lourdes and Lourdes’s family, including two daughters and their poodle Giselle.
Maggie’s troubles threaten the success of her counseling practice but for a while she is able to hide her condition, see clients, and volunteer for SuperMutt Rescue, a dog rescue organization without leaving her home.
Everything changes when Maggie meets Anya, an eccentric young woman convinced her stolen dog Billy is alive. Anya’s family, including her elderly grandmother and intriguing brother Henry, want her to face the truth that Billy is dead. In order to aid Anya search the streets of San Francisco for the missing dog, Maggie is forced to leave her house with the support of Giselle, her friend’s poodle. But when she needs go out without Giselle to rescue another dog, Maggie must face her demons and bravely venture out alone.
Dog Crazy blends the mystery of a missing dog with the importance of baby steps and courage in overcoming a disability as Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to face her biggest fear. And open her heart to new love.
This sensitive women’s novel demonstrates how dogs help people and people help dogs, while incorporating a sweet love story into a feel good dog story.
Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of Dog Crazy, All the Summer Girls, and How to Eat a Cupcake. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, three young daughters, and a dog.
Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushina
(A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery) Crooked Lane, 2015
First, the title is a lot grittier than this fast paced dog-centered mystery, which combines K-9 work with elements of a small town cozy.
Sheriff Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb has a new partner.“[He] was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned…the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race.” He is her German Shepherd K-9 police dog Robo.
Both new to their jobs and both highly driven to succeed, the Mattie-Robo team must figure out why a 16-year-old girl was killed. As it becomes clear the murder may be just the beginning, Mattie and Robo never loose focus.
The case rocks the small Timber Creek, Colorado community where Mattie was once known as a bad kid. Cole Walker, local veterinarian and single father assists, while Mattie and Robo track down the truth and uncover her hometown’s secrets, including those of Cole's daughter, who may know more than she's saying.
The appealing Robo knows what he’s doing, he just needs to train his new partner to trust him. Mizushima treats Robo as an important character, but never uses anthropomorphism to enhance his personality. Mattie honors the human-dog bond with respect. Filled with realistic veterinary procedure and police K-9 team work. Killing Trail features quirky local characters like Mattie’s co-workers at the sheriff's department, all who certainly will turn up in subsequent books.
A suspenseful, well-crafted mystery featuring a caring and relentless heroine, outdoor action, and a dog you’ll fall in love with. Killing Trail is an exciting debut that will have readers waiting for the next book in the series.
Margaret Mizushima balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. She enjoys writing mysteries, reading, and hiking. Mizushima lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.
Reviewed by Amber Polo