I just finished reading “Dog’s Honest Truth,” a mystery novel with a human and dog detective team.
The book, by Neil S. Plakcy, is the 14th in the Golden Retriever Mysteries. Full disclosure: I read the book to review it after seeing an announcement about the book’s release by the author in a dog writer’s group that I belong to. I think it’s important to make that clear because one thing that definitely impressed me was how, throughout the book, the author gave potentially new readers, such as myself, background info about the main characters with just enough detail to fill in some possible blanks, but not so much that it slowed down the plot.
The main character of the book is Steve, a former computer hacker, who now puts his computer skills to use by helping a police detective solve crimes in their hometown of Stewart’s Crossing, Pennsylvania. The book starts out with a cozy scene in Steve‘s kitchen while he and girlfriend Lili make dinner with dog, Rochester, by their side.
The coziness and the small town where they live (which, as described by the author reminds me of the town in Pennsylvania where I lived while in college) make one wonder what could possibly go wrong — until a new neighbor of Steve’s is shot in cold blood during a local event.
There aren’t a lot of clues to go by, but the murdered neighbor apparently made a living by using computers to mine bitcoin, so Steve’s computer background comes in handy when Rick enlists him to help find the killer(s).
There are some characters who could be possible suspects and the book is filled with lots of twists and turns. As another disclosure (or to tell you the dog’s honest truth), I’m actually not a big reader of murder mysteries. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The suspense kept me interested and I was truly surprised to find out why Steve’s neighbor, George, was shot and by whom.
Along the way, Rochester, Steve’s loyal and furry companion, helps Steve find important clues. The dog does this in a subtle way that doesn’t indicate he has doggy superpowers or anything, just a good ability to sniff out things that don’t seem right or appear significant and communicate it to Steve in various ways. For example:
“I looked at Rochester, who had stretched far enough to knock
some mail off a low table with his long, plumey tail. I picked them up and realized that the answers to my questions were not online, but instead in George’s email.”
Although not the main purpose of the book, the author also does a good job of describing what bitcoin is and what mining it means. Plakcy does so in a way that didn’t make me feel sleepy or stupid as I often do when people start discussing technology currency.
There is an interesting subplot involving Steve’s work as an adjunct at a university and a student who gets caught writing a paper for a student at another university.
In addition, there’s an exploration of the emotional bond between human and dog not just with Rochester, but via a dog named Luke. George had been training a service dog named Luke before he was killed, and Steve is suddenly charged with finding out what Luke’s future will be. Steve becomes quite fond of the obedient pup and isn’t sure he even wants to give him up, although he knows the dog needs to continue with his service dog training. This is an interesting angle that, according to the author’s comments on goodreads.com, was inspired by a book that he had edited called “Paws and Reflect”:
“One of the contributors wrote about his experience training puppies who would go on to become seeing eye dogs. I was fascinated not only by the work that these volunteers do, but about the idea — could I give up a puppy I had fallen in love with, so that he could go on to do the job he was meant to do?”
Speaking of the author’s previous work, Plakcy is no stranger to writing or mysteries, having written over fifty mystery and romance novels.
I recommend this book for anyone who likes mysteries and/or dogs and who is looking for a fairly quick and engaging read.
“Dog’s Honest Truth” is available in Kindle, paperback and audiobook forms on Amazon.
Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I make a commission off of qualifying purchases.