Heir of the Dog
Obsidian, Oct 2009, $6.99
She makes a very nice living walking dogs for people too busy to do so; as a professional dog walker, Ellie Engleman takes out her canine friends twice a day. Ellie has the added advantage of being able to telepathically communicate with her pooch pals who would kill or die to protect her.
While walking in Central Park with her terrier mix Rudy, he escorts her to the dwelling of a homeless person Gary who she on friendly terms with. He is dead with his body riddled by bullets. One of Gary’s friends, a dirty water hot dog vender gives her an envelope from Gary. The NYPD lead detective questions Ellie in the station’s interrogation room and implies she is a suspect. Also in the room is Sam Ryder who knows Ellie intimately after a one night stand; though he never called her again as he fears the emotions she surfaces in him. He gets her released into his custody. The envelope contains a will that leaves everything to Rudy with Ellie as executor. They open Gary’s safety deposit box finding $800,000. An internet search leads to learning Gary’s older brother killed their parents and Gary testified against his sibling who is now out of jail after thirty years of incarceration. A letter Gary left insists if he is murdered, his brother killed him; he also asks Ellie to find him and see justice done.. Sam knows Ellie will put herself in danger to fulfill her friend’s death wish; he plans to keep her safe.
It is rare that one can label an amateur sleuth precious, but HEIR OF THE DOG fits that description to a T. Ella and her dogs are cute and charming, but Rudy is precious and charming. The hint of romance between the dog walker and the detective adds depth to her inquiry as he cannot leave her probe without him. The whodunit has a sense of canine whimsy yet is a strong investigative thriller as Judi McCoy’s magic misery tour of Manhattan is a winner.