A new small-town resident has to save her sister’s skin by investigating a murder in which everyone and no one seems to have a role.
Maggie expects life to slow down when she relocates from New York City to little Pacific Cove, California. Her biggest problem is hiring a nurse for Grunkly, her great-uncle, who can deal with his cantankerous attitude and his bookie. Though she anticipates getting some help from her sister, Rachel, who’s a local, Maggie is the one who has to help Rachel out instead. Maggie’s happy-go-lucky sister seems to have disappeared without a trace except for a text message asking Maggie to mind the Whine and Bark, Rachel’s dog-friendly bar. The thing is, Maggie’s not really a dog person—perhaps the most groundbreaking feature of this new entry in the canine-cozy genre. Though what follows is by the book—a dead body in the bar, hints of Rachel’s involvement, Maggie’s crush on the sleuthing Officer Brad Brooks, her determination to protect her sister’s good name—Maggie’s mild disdain for the canines amps up the energy. By the time the chef of the late Dan’s restaurant, DelVecchio’s, comes in as a romantic foil for Officer Brooks, the plot is less about murder and more about the cozy cove’s quirky occupants. Most prominent of these is Yolanda, who, along with her sidekick dog Beepo, all but assaults Maggie with acts of friendship and offers of help.
Though an anti-canine heroine might ruffle some fur in this genre, the resulting conflicts allow Orgain (Nursing a Grudge, 2013, etc.) to put a new spin on some of its conventions. The true winner in this tale, however, is Yolanda, the overbearing friend who chooses you.