These two mysteries are tough on crime but sweet on dogs.
All Andy Carpenter wants is to put his law practice in his rearview mirror and enjoy retirement; his dog rescue foundation deserves all the love and time he can throw at it and then some. When a friend reaches out for a favor involving a stray dog, things quickly get complicated. Muzzled combines the worlds of tech startups, medicine and the mafia in an off-leash thriller.
This is Andy’s 21st outing, and author David Rosenfelt has a firm handle on the character. He imbues Andy’s home life with warmth and humor, but quickly shifts the tone as the search for the killers heats up. Once more bodies appear, his team of associates jumps in to help. The balance of action and levity is just right—Andy’s crew is hilarious, but some of the bad guys they take on are the stuff of nightmares.
The Tara Foundation and Andy’s dogs, Tara and Sebastian, appear periodically, but they don’t upstage the main story. Not even a cameo by a dog named Simon Garfunkel (!) can derail the pursuit of justice. But dog people and their essential goodness stay at the heart of this tale.
Spencer Quinn’s Of Mutts and Men takes quite a different approach. Washed-up PI Bernie Little is unlucky in love and money, but he hit the jackpot when he teamed up with Chet, his canine sidekick and the narrator of this wild ride. In their 10th adventure, the pair shows up to meet with a scientist with a secret, and are shocked to find that the man has been murdered.
Quinn gets inside the mind of a dog, making Chet a terrific tour guide through this absolute riot of a mystery. The tension ratchets up as Chet sniffs out details his human partner is oblivious to, but then he’s unable to communicate his findings. The plot involves water rights and wine grapes, and includes a femme fatale whose overtures toward Bernie overload Chet’s ability to sift through all the flying pheromones.
Amid frequent laughs and a crime story reminiscent of Chinatown, there’s also Bernie’s inability to get things right with the women in his life, and Chet’s quiet care for a hospice patient who he can sense is near the end. It would be easy to get mired in sadness, but all it takes is a glance at Bernie for Chet (and us) to fall in love all over again.