An Indiana photographer whose life revolves around her dog becomes a reluctant bloodhound.
Janet MacPhail and her Australian shepherd, Jay, are competing at an obedience trial near their Fort Wayne home when Abigail Dorn, a respected but not very well-liked woman, collapses and dies. Janet helps out by taking Abigail’s award-winning border collie, Pip, home with her while Greg Dorn waits with his stricken spouse. What at first seems to be an allergic reaction turns out to be a poisoning. The police are initially suspicious of Janet, who has not only Pip, but all of Abigail’s stuff, including some leftover food containers she’s unfortunately run through her dishwasher. But police Detective Jo Stevens, who doesn’t really think Janet is a murderer, relies on her to explain the minutiae of dog breeding and showing. Greg emerges as the main suspect, since he may have been having an affair with Suzette Anderson, whose border collie, Fly, is number two behind Pip. Janet must deal with her mother’s descent into dementia and her attraction to Tom Saunders, who’s showing a Labrador retriever named Drake. In between these problems, she digs up dirt on a breeder who may have falsified breeding records and another dog person who’s obsessed with Greg. Even Tom is a suspect because his mother was left out when Abigail’s side of the family inherited a fortune, and he’s a college professor with expertise in poisonous plants. When Janet starts receiving threats and her cat is kidnapped, she redoubles her efforts to find the truth.
Boneham’s debut, which supplements its menagerie of human suspects with oodles of information on obedience trials, will delight dog fanciers.