There’s nothing like a murder to lift a dog trainer out of the doldrums.
Jazz Ramsey has a home in a nice area of Cleveland, a good job at a girls’ school, and a quirky hobby training cadaver dogs. But all is not well. She’s recently lost her adored firefighter father and her golden retriever, Manny, and is no longer dating Detective Nick Kolesov. Jazz’s life suddenly changes when Luther, the German shepherd she’s training, alerts during an exercise in a building under renovation, leading Jazz to a body. In a case to which Nick is assigned, Jazz recognizes the strangled woman dressed in goth clothing as Florentine Allen. Florie was a talented art student at St. Catherine’s who’d won a scholarship to the North Coast School of Photography and Design, where she was having problems so serious that she was in danger of flunking out. Jazz learns from her boss, the principal of St. Catherine’s, that Florie had been harassed by some of her high school classmates, especially wealthy, entitled Grace Greenwald, another student at North Coast. Unable to let Florie’s death go, Jazz starts an investigation of her own and finds that Florie had recently asked her parents, hoarders whose house is full to the attic with junk, for a large amount of money. Florie’s part-time work for the Cleveland Horror Film Festival explains why she was wearing a goth outfit but not why she was paying a neighbor to take her unattractive baby out for photo sessions. Jazz’s discovery that Florie was blackmailing people introduces a whole new group of suspects. Although her interactions with Nick, who seems to want to rekindle their relationship, awaken old memories and danger signs, any interest in her own relationship is sidelined by her disquieting discoveries about Florie’s desperate search for money.
The debut in a new series by the prolific Logan (Italian Iced, 2018, etc.) has shoals of red herrings and a nice touch of romance.