Deadly Dog Days (Book #1: A Dog Days Mystery) by Jamie M. Blair. Cozy mystery, paperback, 240 pages, published November 8, 2016 by Midnight Ink. ISBN: 0738750182
New to the historic town of Metamora, Indiana, Cameron Cripps-Hayman is looking to make friends with her neighbors. What she isn’t looking for is one of their bodies floating in the canal. When she and her estranged husband, the town sheriff, are both named suspects for the murder, Cameron takes solving the crime into her own hands, teaming up with her eccentric co-workers who dub themselves The Metamora Action Agency. As if hunting for a murderer with two high school geniuses, the town drunk, and an elderly kleptomaniac isn’t hard enough, Cameron adopts the five mangy guard dogs of her deceased neighbor. But maybe a stint at playing gatekeeper is just what she needs to come face-to-face with the killer and save another neighbor from being the next victim.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My luck with the whole cozy mystery genre has been sort of hit or miss and in this instance, it has definitely been a hit. A cast of totally weird characters and an interesting and only slightly heavy plot had me hooked and laughing from start to finish.
Cameron hasn’t ever felt like she belongs in the super-small town of Metamora. Oh, she married a local but the town is quite small and not prone to letting outsiders in easily. Most of the locals are friendly and some, Cameron even calls friend, but she’s never been privy to all the nitty gritty, down and dirty details that make up the close-knit population of Metamora. All that changes the day Cameron discovers a dead body and is accused of murdering the victim. I guess she’s in the middle of the nitty gritty, down and dirty now, isn’t she?
Cameron is certain she didn’t kill the poor young lady and a few members of the Metamora population even believe her, but the vast majority do not. If Cameron has any hope of staying in the town she now calls home, she’s going to have to prove her innocence. Good thing she knows a cop. Bad thing, that cop is her husband she is currently separated from and the man who may or may not have been dating the deceased. Oh, great!! Can it get any worse?? It’s fiction, of course it can get worse.
With very few people actually on her side, Cameron sets out to prove her innocence by enlisting a most unusual and weird group of people. There’s the town drunk who insists on calling Cameron by her full name every time they speak, there’s the town kleptomaniac, the dark and brooding kid from the next town over (remember what I said about outsiders?), and two go-getter high school kids looking to get ahead. Yeah, they’re not quite the Scooby gang and their efforts are often amateurish at best but they sure do provide a load of funny moments.
As if endeavoring to clear her name weren’t enough, Cameron also has a full plate where her private life is concerned. Though she’s separated from her husband, Cameron Cripps-Hayman (that’ll be funny when you meet the drunk!) isn’t entirely sure she’s ready for a divorce, her best-friend is also her handyman, her step-daughter is a constant source of frustration (she wrecks the car!), she has adopted five abandoned and somewhat wild dogs, and her mother-in-law is bat sh*t crazy and hell bent on seeing Cameron gone. Between the murder investigation, all the crazy people, the dogs, and one delightfully huge hoop skirt, Cameron might just come out of this mess with more than she could have ever hoped for. That is, if she doesn’t become a murder victim herself J
The Bottom Line: The more I wrote about this book and all it’s crazy, the more I realized how much I really did enjoy it. Cameron is her own special kind of crazy which actually makes her a great match for the crazy town of Metamora. She’s stubborn and more than a little determined even at the risk of her own life. Her life (and her house) are a hot mess and every new situation she finds herself in is crazier than the last. Flipping pages isn’t a problem when you’re laughing at the antics (and words) involved in solving a murder amidst a town full of weirdos. While Deadly Dog Days is currently a stand-alone read, I can see a lot of possibilities for future reads. After all, it’s pretty clear I like books chock full of weirdos and dogs 🙂