Eileen Brady,
Muzzled: A Kate Turner, D.V.M. Mystery
(Poisoned Pen, 2014)

Kate Turner is a veterinarian substituting in another doctor's practice in Oak Falls, a community in upstate New York and the greater Hudson River Valley. During her house calls she gets to meet quite a variety of pets and pet owners. What she doesn't expect to find is the dead bodies of those pet owners. But that's exactly what happens when she walks into a home and finds elderly couple Thomas and Vivian Langthorne on the living room floor, both dead of gunshot wounds. Their myriad and agitated show spaniels are out of their pens and running amok. Is this a murder-suicide, or a double murder? Kate's not an investigator. But after she makes sure the animals are safe, she can't help wondering and asking questions in an attempt to figure everything else out.

Oak Falls is a small town. And everyone seems to have secrets that Kate doesn't have a clue about, since she's a newcomer (and likely to be a temporary one, at that). The Langthornes had evidently made a variety of enemies among the townspeople. They were rich enough to own and rent out a number of properties, and to make demands or other acquisitions merely when they wanted to. They also fostered enemies among the folks on the regional dog show circuit, where competition could be cutthroat. Which brings us to the dogs themselves. Most of them seem to be accounted for. But where is Charles Too, the Langthorne's champion stud dog? Kate goes along with a deception, but she sure would like to see the furry guy with her own eyes.

The more she learns about the Langthornes and about Oak Falls, the more she knows she wants to find the killer and the dog. Police Chief Robert Garcia and his staff don't seem to be making much headway in the investigation. So Kate continues to ask questions of just about everyone she meets during her daily rounds ... which naturally, in a mystery like this one, invariably leads her exactly to the person she seeks. But she also puts herself in the path of pure danger and, quite possibly, death. Readers get clues in order to glimpse the identity of the perpetrator here. The actual denouement may come somewhat as a surprise, but it ends up being a satisfying one.

Veteran veterinarian Eileen Brady has penned a worthy debut novel here. She was fortunate enough to win the 2013 Poisoned Pen Discover Mystery Contest, and the prize was publication by Poisoned Pen Press. She says she's working on at least one sequel, which is a good sign. I know that I'll be interested in reading more of Dr. Kate Turner's adventures.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Corinne H. Smith

19 July 2014

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