Newsome (Sneak Thief, 2015, etc.) returns to the adventures of artist and canine lover Lia Anderson.
In this fifth Dog Park Mystery, Lia, the committed owner of two pooches—a miniature schnauzer and a golden retriever—is finally dating Detective Peter Dourson. She met Peter when he investigated the death of her boyfriend at the beginning of the series. But Lia and Peter haven’t had enough time to enjoy each other’s company because she has been commissioned to build a float for the Northside’s famous Fourth of July Parade. Shaped like “a giant Browning Buckmark .22 pistol,” the float means to celebrate the work of local Cincinnati crime novelist Lucas Cross, even though he vanished while attending an authors’ convention in Austin, Texas, at the beginning of June. It’s a strange situation, but, as Lia notes, even if Cross is still missing by the time of the parade, the gun “will only be in slightly worse taste than the usual Northside parade float. [Cross’] books are coming out next month, regardless.” When the accountant of the Cross-affiliated knitting club that commissioned the float is inexplicably attacked one night in an alley, the sense of foul play begins to grow. Lia must put down her artist’s cap and return to her role as amateur investigator in hopes of discovering the truth behind Cross’ disappearance before anyone gets killed. Newsome writes with flair and humor, balancing the tension of the novel’s mystery against the lighthearted backdrop of the Mount Air dog park. The charmingly idiosyncratic characters—human and animal both—set the book apart from more noirish works, and the slight goofiness (parade floats, knitting circles) puts the reader pleasantly off balance. The stakes are never so high that the reader feels anxious, but the author delivers an inventive plot and a sharp and compelling protagonist. Dog-obsessed readers in particular should enjoy this riff on the whodunit genre that keeps its canines central to the action in a way pet owners likely feel is lacking in other works of fiction.
An entertaining and well-crafted addition to a dog-centric mystery series.