If you like your mysteries hard-boiled, you’ll love books by Andrew Vachss, Jim Thompson or James Ellroy. Readers with more sensitive souls turn to cozies, a mystery sub-genre that evokes a slight smile with a modicum of suspense. For cozy readers like us, there’s no better mystery than one that combines snoops and their pooches.
In Susan Conant’s A Dog Lover’s Mystery Series, malamutes Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy have saved the day (and their guardian Holly Winter’s life) in 19 books and counting. Holly writes for a dog magazine and her adventures always seem to find her at the scene of a murder which, of course, she solves by the end. (I have an affinity for Holly Winter as I also write articles for a dog magazine!)
Then we have the adventures of private investigator Bernie Little, narrated by his four-footed buddy, Chet. Author Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series have entertained and charmed readers through eight books so far. An animal narrator is a tricky act and Quinn doesn’t always pull it off. His series lean more towards noir than cozy but it’s always fun to read about murder in Los Angeles.
My sister votes for David Rosenfelt as her favorite author when it comes to dogs and detectives. As one who has owned golden retrievers for the last 30 years, perhaps it is because Tara, a beautiful golden, is the series star. She lives with her human, Andy Carpenter, a brash attorney who truly hates what he does for a living. His true passion is the Tara Foundation, a rescue operation that he started with a sizable inheritance. Every good mystery protagonist has to have that one friend who does the dirty work. He (or she) is usually the muscle; morally complicated and dangerous, but a loyal friend who is ready to do what it takes to bring down the bad guys. Ex-con Willie fills that role for Carpenter.
An Amazon search will yield dozens more dog-and-detective books, but what makes Conant, Quinn and Rosenfelt bestselling authors are the qualities that make great reading. First of all, great writing. The characters are fully developed and you feel like you know them intimately. Minute details transport you to the scene. You learn things and most importantly, there are dogs, dogs, dogs.