Monday, November 13, 2017

Ears for Murder

Black Opal Books
Print, 203 pages
September 30, 2017
Genre: Mystery
Series: Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries 5

Trouble crops up in Native American Elsie “Beanie” MacBean’s neck of the woods during Lake Tahoe’s worst drought of the century. Beanie already has her hands full, dog sitting Calamity, her daughter Nona’s rescued basset hound, and is feeling overwhelmed, dealing with her crazy new boarder’s behavioral issues and chronic ear infections, while juggling writing deadlines and caring for her own dog, Cruiser.

Then things turn deadly.

While on a woodland hike with Cruiser and Calamity, Beanie lets the dogs off their leashes. As the two canines rush off, she questions the wisdom of letting them run free. But when the dogs start baying, she knows they’ve found trouble. Sure enough, the animals have sniffed out a lumberjack's corpse, hugging a tree, with an arrow piercing his neck.

Did the killer object to the lumberjack clear-cutting the old-growth forest, or was his motive more personal? As the bodies pile up and the suspects mount, Beanie realizes that her serene forest home is no longer as safe and peaceful as before. Now danger lurks in the forest—man, beast, and nature—and they all seem determined to kill her…

Dog lovers will howl with approval for Sue Owens Wright's mystery staring a mature American Indian woman and the dogs she loves, despite the trouble they can cause. Not only do we have a murder mystery to solve, we learn loads about basset hounds and bears. I enjoyed the folk lore and the Lake Tahoe seting. It is woman against a murderer as well as against nature.
Elsie “Beanie” MacBean loves her home. Her life seems quiet since her firefighter husband's death, but adventure (and trouble) seem to find her. Living in an isolated location does not mean Beanie's life is dull. The author's writing style is casual, like listening to a good friend. When she goes off the beaten path you are never worried that you'll lose the scent of the story.
For a brief few moments I was worried that I would not approve of the author's choice of murderer. There were a couple of secondary characters I was beginning to like when the shadow of doubt fell over them. Even after the murder portion of the book was completed, Beanie and dogs have to trust their skills to come out of this alive.

Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs.

She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody MurderSirius About MurderEmbarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.

Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog FancyMystery SceneAKC GAZETTEFido FriendlyThe Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables.

Sue graduated from California State University and has taught elementary school, college English and adult writing courses. She did MFA studies in fiction writing at the Universities of Dublin and Galway in Ireland and University College London in England. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, DWAA, Sisters in Crime, PEO International, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Sierra Pastel Society, SSPCA, and Daughters of the American Revolution. Her newest novel is The Secret of Bramble Hill.

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