Book Reviews: The Kingdom of Dog by Neil S. Plakcy, A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block and Among the Departed by Vicki Delany

The Kingdom of Dog
A Golden Retriever Mystery
Neil S. Plakcy
Kindle Edition, March 2011
Also available in other ebook formats

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Rochester and I am a Golden Retriever.  For those of you who read about me in the book In Dog We Trust, it is good to see you again.  For those new to Golden Retriever Mysteries, Welcome!

For a little background, I now share a townhouse with Steve Levitan. We enjoy each other’s company and share some wonderful times as well as a few scary adventures. Steve has a full time job as an adjunct in the English Department of Eastern College, his alma mater.  Having a full time job is something new for Steve and me.  Steve got into a little trouble prior to moving here and it has been a struggle to put the past behind him but things seem to be coming together now.

Steve is currently working under Mike MacCormac, the director of alumni relations and Eastern is getting ready to launch a $500 million capital campaign to fund new constructions, scholarships and faculty chairs.   Mike isn’t happy with Joe Dagorian, director of admissions.  Mike has a wealthy alumni targeted for a major gift but Joe is refusing to send an admittance letter to Moran’s son.

The night of the big fund-raiser finally arrives and Steve is busy at the party.  I am resting in Steve’s office when I decide to go wander around outside and that is when I find Joe’s body.  I immediately notify Steve, the police are called and the investigation begins.

Joe thought the money being spent for the party was a waste and could be used to better advantage in other areas.  There were several people at the party who had reason to be happy to be rid of Joe so there was no lack of suspects.

Joe was Steve’s mentor and his friend and Steve was determined to do everything he could to bring the killer to justice.  I was able to be quite a bit of help when I uncovered a few clues and pointed them out to Steve.  Joe’s murder was not the only mystery that was solved in this story.

I think you will like the characters in The Kingdom of Dog and find the story to be a real page-turner.  If you haven’t read In Dog We Trust, try it too.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2011.

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A  Drop of the Hard Stuff
A Matthew Scudder Novel
Lawrence Block
Mulholland Books, May 2011
ISBN No. 978-0316127332
Hardcover (ARC)

Although Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve-step program has been a lifesaver for many people, Jack Ellery never got past the eighth step.  Matthew Scudder ran into Jack Ellery at an AA meeting.  Jack had attended the same grade school as Matt but the two really didn’t know a lot about each other.  Matt is an ex-police officer who is attempting to put his life back together.  This includes attending many AA meetings.  Jack, on many occasions. has been on the other side of the law but he is working at turning his life around.

Matt and Jack get together after the AA meeting and catch up on the past.  Jack filled Matt in on his sponsor, Gregory Stillman, who Jack referred to as a “Step Nazi”.    Jack said that Greg had been helping him work on the steps and the next one was the step where you list people you have harmed and become willing to make amends.

Matt was spending time on and off with his girl friend, Jan.  Matt attended an AA meeting with Jan where he ran into Jack again.  This time Jack didn’t look good.  His face was swollen and he had been beaten pretty badly.  The next news Matt had regarding Jack was from Greg Stillman.  Jack had been murdered.

Greg hired Matt to investigate the murder.  Both felt sure that the murder had something to do with the fact that Jack was working on making amends and revealing instances from his past.  The investigation proved dangerous and even threatened Matt’s hard-earned sobriety.

This addition to the Matthew Scudder series is a must read for Lawrence Block fans.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2011.

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Among The Departed
A Constable Molly Smith Novel
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press, May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-924-3
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback

Brothers and sisters tend to argue and Jamie and his sister Poppy aren’t exempt from disagreements.  When the two get into an argument at the campground outside of Trafalgar, British Columbia, where the family is camping, Jamie is ordered by his mother to go into timeout.  Jamie decides that he will show his parents that he won’t be treated in that manner.  He stuffs his blanket in his sleeping bag and sneaks out of the tent to have his own private adventure. The adventure becomes scary for Jamie and his parents are terrified when they discover Jamie is missing.

The police are called and Adam Tocek of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is summoned to report to the campground with his dog Norman to lead the search.  Constable Molly Smith has been spending a romantic evening with Adam but when the evening is interrupted, she decides to accompany Adam and Norman on the hunt.  Jamie is found tired, dirty and scared, but Norman also uncovers some human bones.

Although the ID is not positive, Sergeant John Winters decides to reopen the Brian Nowak investigation.  Brian Nowak disappeared years ago.  Winters finds out that Molly Smith who was then known as Moonlight Smith was the best friend of Nicky Nowak, Brian’s daughter.  Molly happened to have been visiting Nicky on the day Nowak disappeared.  Smith asks Molly’s assistance into the old case of Nowak’s disappearance.

The Nowak family is nothing like it was at the time Molly and Nicky were friends.  Mrs. Nowak is a recluse.  Kyle Nowak is the son and still lives at home but has a studio in the basement.  He is an artist but his art is very disturbing.  Kyla walks the streets of Trafalgar at night and has no friends.  Nicky Nowak, Molly’s old friend, moved to Vancouver after her father’s disappearance.  She has a career that brings her an excellent income but not a career that she wants to discuss with her friend Molly or her family.

Many family secrets are brought to light during the investigation and the outcome is surprising and horrifying.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2011.

One thought on “Book Reviews: The Kingdom of Dog by Neil S. Plakcy, A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block and Among the Departed by Vicki Delany

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