Ally Winter is going through a ruff patch. The thirty-something veterinarian lost her fiance, her clinic, and her savings in rapid succession. So when Ally’s grandfather undergoes hip replacement surgery, she moves back to Willow Bluff, Wisconsin, to care for him. She arrives home, tail between her legs, only to find sleazy lawyer Marty Shawlin murdered in his home office. And the only witness was Marty’s faithful boxer, Roxy.
Quick as a greyhound, Noah Jorgensen is on the case. The good news is, he’s the best detective around. The bad news, at least the way Ally sees it, is that Noah is still just as fetching as he was back in high school. He also just happens to have witnessed every embarrassing incident that befell accident-prone Ally–including the fire-ant attack that set tongues wagging and won her the unshakable nickname Hot Pants.
Meanwhile, true-crime aficionado Gramps fancies himself a sleuth, and he is doggedly determined to sniff out the culprit himself…with Ally’s reluctant help, of course. Ally has no choice but to team up with Noah–and the irrepressible Roxy–to solve the case while keeping Gramps on a short leash.
Ally had better learn some new tricks, lickety-split. Because if she can’t bring the killer to heel, she won’t just be playing dead.
Source: NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books Rating: 4/5 stars
The Bottom Line: From the beginning, it is clear Ally Winter is in trouble and if her fortunes and luck don’t turn soon, she’s going to be down to her last dollar and living with her beloved grandfather in his already cramped senior living situation. With no interest in going backward in her life, Ally sets her sights on the future and growing her burgeoning veterinary clinic.
With a stack of bills and little pride, Ally takes on all including dog-walking, grooming, and standard veterinary care. It’s one of her dog walking clients, the uber-creepy Marty Shawlin that draws Ally and her true crime obsessed grandfather into a mess that threatens to bring down Ally and her new clinic. Marty Shawlin may have excellent taste in dogs, but his business ethics are lacking and lands him in the morgue and Ally with a doggy witness with no home.
When Ally’s grandfather gets involved, things go from somewhat manageable to downright crazy and reigning him in is a bit like herding cats. To make matters worse, Ally and her grandfather seem to keep uncovering information the police need, but the police – Noah in particular – is not interested in the help or the tips. Every uncovered bit of information only encourages Ally’s grandfather and makes him even more difficult to contain. With the exception of Ally’s constant musings about money and credit cards clearing, I found this book to be fun and quite entertaining. Ally clearly cares for the animals she helps, her grandfather is relentless and hilarious (the cell phone calls!), and the elderly women he lives with are pure sunshine. There is a lot about this first in a series book to like and keep me interested in what the future holds for Ally, Roxy, and her grandfather. This one will appeal to fans of cozy mystery as well as fans of books with a heavy animal presence.