The Dog Park Club
Minotaur, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
Claudia Fantini visits her opera singer friend Max Bravo to cry on his shoulders because her husband Larry left her. When Max returns to Berkley from overseas he goes straight to her apartment where she tells him to walk her dog Asta. While walking the dog Max meets Jordi, who knows Asta from Larry walking the canine. They go to the dog park seven blocks away and Max meets a motley crew. When he returns to the apartment to drop off Asta, Max leaves a note for a sleeping Claudia encouraging her to visit the people at the dog park.
When Max returns from an opera engagement, he is shocked to learn Claudia is hanging out at the dog park as she took his advice though he believes they are beneath them. Ed sleeps in his car; Gator is unemployed; Amy is pregnant though fearful of her abusive husband. When Amy fails to show up at the dog park; Max and the gang become concerned that her husband harmed or killed her. The cops investigate, but find no evidence of foul play or of Amy. .Led by Max and his visiting German boyfriend the group set up surveillance of the husband, but believe caution is critical as they think he will act like a trapped rat if confronted.
Cynthia Robinson’s first novel is a terrific character driven tale that looks deeply at an ensemble case who makes up The Dog Park Club. Told by Max who holds the story line together, the coming together of a mystery, camaraderie and a slice of Berkley is well written and very entertaining although the ending seems to flow detached and uneven from the deep character study that Max narrates.