I have three light and fun books to share – all fiction and light but easy reads. The first one is Beaglemania – A Pet Rescue Mystery by Linda O. Johnston.
Linda Johnston writes the Pet Sitter Mysteries featuring Kendra Ballantyne and a few of the characters overlap here. You don’t need to read the Pet Sitter series first though.
The Pet Rescue series is based on Lauren Vancouver, the head of a well-funded private no kill shelter called HotRescues located near Los Angles. The book opens with a raid on a puppy mill and the dramatic rescue of four Beagle puppies from a storm drain they had been tossed into. The discussion of the SmART team (Small Animal Rescue Team of Los Angeles Animal Services) is based on the real unit.
Lauren is there confronting a young man named Efram who is doing community service at her rescue as part of a legal settlement concerning a dog he had abused. The dog had been rehomed and he had sued. The upshot being that Efram would get a settlement from the HotRescues wealthy benefactor if he learned to work with and care for animals.
Sparks fly in a good way between Lauren and animal officer Captain Matt Kingston at the rescue while angry sparks fly between Lauren and Efram, the young man who she now suspects of being involved with the puppy mill. The plot thickens when Efram is found dead on the HotRescues site after an argument with Lauren. The timing is tricky too – only Lauren was still at the facility that night and she finds the body.
The cast of characters is fun and engaging. The sweet little old lady who turns out to be a tough as nails lawyer, the slightly mysterious Capt Kingston and a whole host of HotRescues staff keep you intrigued and guessing “who done it”. Only in a southern California mystery would the protagonist’s best friend be a top notch veterinarian who is also a TV program star. Right up until the end, there are a number of possible suspects, including the security company staff and the HotRescues staff. The animal characters add to the story for any dog lovers from Hannibal the Great Dane to Honey to the little Westie mix.
The story does glaze over some of the real life problems of shelters and rescues even with unlimited funding but awareness is clearly be part of Ms Johnston’s goal along with entertainment. Anyone who reads this will be thinking about animal cruelty and proper animal care throughout. the book is not dark and depressing however. The romance and mystery are light making this a perfect book to stuff in your bag as you head for a day at the beach.
Beaglemania is one of the Berkley Prime Crime titles published by Penguin. It is a small paperback and sells for $7.99. I got my copy through Dogwise.com but you could also get it through your local independent bookstore, Barnes and Noble or amazon.com.
More fun reads to come!