SOUL HEELER by Cary Robinson

SOUL HEELER

From the "The Dudley Files" series, volume 3
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The third in Robinson’s (Burp Gun Bandit, 2014, etc.) detective series gives a steadfast canine companion his own origin story.

Anyone who’s read previous novels featuring Texan sleuth Careless knows that his Black Mouth Cur, Dudley, is always by his side. This time, the first-person narration is Dudley’s, starting back when he was born to a purebred litter. Genial breeder Heidi names him “King,” and he quickly learns that his siblings are “for sale” and sees them all taken away by other humans. Heidi, however, saves King for her dad, whose ranch is an ideal spot for a hunting breed. Sadly, her father isn’t keen on caring for a dog and doesn’t plan on keeping King around. The canine’s ensuing trek to Careless is an arduous one, eventually landing him in a shelter and later pitting him against much more aggressive animals in the wild. After he finally meets and bonds with his detective owner, he affectionately calls him “my human.” At first, Careless helps run the family steel business, but once he steps into the role of gumshoe, Dudley proves a true asset. Their first official case involves a missing country singer, Jake Harm, and it takes Careless’ smarts and Dudley’s nose to find a solution—and future detective work. Series readers will recognize the duo’s cases, all of which appear in earlier stories. The names and details are slightly different, but part of the charm of Dudley’s narrative is that although he thoroughly relays what’s happening, he doesn’t always understand everything. Robinson writes in a breezy style, accommodating Dudley’s single-mindedness by tackling one thing at a time. The story centers on the greatest canine traits (loyalty, protectiveness, and empathy) and sustains an amiable tone, as Dudley’s hardships never include abuse or anything equally harrowing. Perhaps best of all, Dudley’s account of the first two books in the series catches up to the latest’s cliffhanger and (somewhat) resolves it.

A mystery tale that engagingly puts a spotlight on a lovable, floppy-eared pooch.

Publisher: Golden Hound Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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