Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and fun with good mystery and characters
The Bottom Line:
Death at the races
Twists and turns balanced with laughs
Result is pure fun
Clearing Betty Depends on Finding the Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo
If you are looking for fun and humor in your mystery, you need to be reading the Pampered Pets Mysteries from the writing duo of Sparkle Abbey. These books delight and deliver on their fun titles. The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo is another perfect example.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, they feature cousins Caro and Mel who have both relocated from their native Texas to Laguna Beach, California, and both make their living from catering to the pet obsessed residence of this Orange County community. The books alternate - the odd numbered books feature Caro while the even numbered books feature Mel. Since this is book six in the series, it is Mel's turn in the spotlight.
This weekend, the Dachshund Dash has come to town, and Mel has closed down her Bow Wow Boutique to be there. Not only does she have a booth, but she is also providing the official racing jerseys for the contestants. While she isn't familiar with the backstage drama associated with this racing circuit, she quickly gets a crash course when Lenny and Richard, the owners of the dogs expected to finish in first and second, get into an argument right outside her booth. A little while later, her assistant, Betty, gets into an altercation with Richard, even brandishing a gun at him. So, naturally, when Mel finds Richard's dead body after he's been shot, Betty becomes the prime suspect. Only Betty claims that someone, a girl with a dachshund tattoo, took the gun away from her. Why is Betty being so secretive? Where is her gun? Who shot Richard?
The book jumps into the action pretty quickly, giving us several conflicts with Richard at the center. So, when he turns up dead, we already have a couple of suspects in mind. Not only are they developed further, but Mel finds another couple suspects to keep us confused until the logical ending. Not to mention the fact that Betty is definitely hiding something.
The alternating main characters is unusual in the series I read, and it really gives us two sets of series regulars. Yes, the town is small enough that the characters will often have cameos in the other cousin's books, but it's not a full update on everyone we know in this series each time. At times, this does make it frustrating when you know it will be a couple of books before you can learn what happens next to a character, but that's a minor complaint overall. For example, I am dying to know what will happened next in Mel's personal life after how this book ends, but I doubt I will get the full story about that until book eight.
The characters in this series walk a fine line. They are real enough to make us care about them. This is especially true of Mel in this book, which helps ground everything for us. Other characters are a bit broader and wackier, and Betty is a prime example of that. Oh, we care that she is cleared of any wrong doing in the crime, but she is such a hoot that we spend more time laughing at her antics than being concerned about her future when she is on the page. The suspects introduced in this book are more on the fun side, but it works for this series, and they are real enough to keep us involved in the story.
Are you getting the sense that this series will make you laugh? I hope so. I certainly do when I read the books. I was grinning and chuckling when I wasn't laughing outright. This book is fun, pure and simple.
When you are looking for a series mystery, this is not the series to pick up. But when you are looking for something light with a puzzling mystery, The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo is definitely the book to pick up.
Looking for more of the series? Here are the rest of the Pampered Pets Mysteries in order.
This book is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.