Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, plenty of fun
Cons: Some minor pacing issues
The Bottom Line:
Vision of murder
A good plot infused with fun
Glad I picked it up
Something Different, but Fun
You’ve probably noticed that I tend to shy away from paranormal cozies. Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part I avoid them. So, what lead me to pick up Barking Mad at Murder? This is the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic Mystery, after all. I met the author at a local author event several years ago. After chatting with her most of the day, I had to buy one of her books. Yes, it did take me a while to read it, but I’m glad I finally picked it up.
Frankie Chandler makes her living as a pet psychic in a small town in Arizona. There’s just one problem – she’s a fake. She really uses cues from her knowledge of human and animal behavior and fakes her visions to help pet owners with their pets’ behavior. So, you can imagine how surprised Frankie is when a dog named Sandy actually gets through and gives her a vision of a murder. She’s willing to write off the entire thing as a bad dream until a body matching the victim in the vision turns up in the desert. Can Frankie figure out what really happened? Does Sandy know more than Frankie got in the first vision?
Okay, I’ll confess. Even knowing the premise of the book, it still took me a few chapters to fully embrace the fact that animals could communicate with Frankie. That’s on me. I will say, once I did get into that world, I really did enjoy it. After all, Frankie is just beginning to really communicate with animals, so she doesn’t know what to expect or how it works. It was fun watching her explore that.
Overall, the plot is good. I did think the pacing was a bit off a time or two, but never for very long. Since Frankie is also new to investigating a murder, she stumbles a time or two on her way to figuring everything out, but she gets there. Along the way, we get a good sub-plot to help keep our attention. The climax was great and resolves all the questions we had over the course of the book.
Since this is the first book with these characters, we spend a little time getting to know Frankie and her friends. I can already tell who I want to become series regulars. Some of them have a little room to grow, but that’s often the case with the first in a series. Considering Frankie wasn’t looking for love, the book ends with a romantic triangle. Honestly, I like both guys, so whoever Frankie winds up with would be okay with me. The suspects were certainly good, which helped keep me confused.
One reason I picked up the book was because I was expecting some humor, and I wasn’t disappointed. While I may not have been laughing out loud on every page I was grinning frequently at the predicaments that Frankie managed to get herself into. Occasionally, I was cringing as well, but that’s more my sense of humor than an issue with the book.
I’m glad I took the detour to Barking Mad at Murder. This is a good series opener wrapped in humor. Anyone looking for a light, fun read will be rewarded when they pick up this book.
This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.