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Friday, March 4, 2011

A Dog About Town by J.F. Englert

Title: A Dog About Town
Series: A Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery, Book 1
Author: J.F. Englert
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 271
ISBN: 9780440243632
Publisher: Dell
Author Website:
Twitter: @RandolphNewYork
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars

From Amazon:
Harry is a man still mourning the loss of his beloved girlfriend, Imogen, who left him suddenly without a word. He’s also the owner of a plump, poetry-loving Lab, Randolph. Like most Manhattan dogs, Randolph spends his days sifting through a world of scents, his owner’s neuroses, and an overcrowded doggy run at the American Museum of Natural History. But now a bereft Harry has drifted into a circle of would-be occultists. Which might not be so bad if one of them wasn’t also a murderer.

But which one? With 100,000 times the smelling power of a human being, Randolph can quickly detect the scents of guilt, anxiety, and avarice—and he has no lack of suspects, from a seductive con woman to an uncouth professor of the decorative arts. Now, to protect his hapless owner’s life, Randolph might have to do the unthinkable—and start training Harry to catch a killer...

I first learned about J.F. Englert's Bull Moose Dog Run Mysteries through LT's Early Reviewer program, where they were giving away the second book in the series, A Dog Among Diplomats, this past month. The premise of the series or at least of the first book) is Harry's black lab, Randolph, helps guide Harry to help solve a murder mystery. That's what it seemed to be at first, at least. I was immediately attracted to this book due to the fact that I have a black lab of my own (her name is Mame) and I just thought the premise sounded cute, so I thought I'd give the first one a try.

What I discovered was a surprisingly well written book. A great deal of the story deals with a secondary (yet primary in Harry and Randolph's eyes) mystery, the disappearance a year ago of Harry's girlfriend and Randolph's mistress, Imogen. It is apparent from the beginning of the book that Harry has taken Imogen's disappearance hard, and it is brought up numerous times how it has affected his day to day life, and these are the parts of the book that surprised me the most, Harry's feelings and how he is dealing with the grief of loss.

The entire book is told from the POV of Randolph, who lets you know right away that he is a most peculiar and special dog, that he is sentient. He can read, write (using Alpha-Bits), has long-term memory and is all-around quite the intelligent dog. Englert handles explaining things from the POV of Randolph extremely well, even giving some insight into doggie behavior.

The mystery portion of the book is well played out, even though most of it is explained as the book progresses, but it is Randolph's way of explaining it to Harry that is the most fun (I don't want to give too much of this away, but I've left a clue in this review!).

It's certainly not a challenging read, but it is well-written and just plain fun! I'm looking forward to A Dog Among Diplomats release at the end of the month.

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