A dog-walking business falls into peril when all of its clients are burgled.
Stephen and Renée work for Stephen’s dad at Noble Dog Walking service. After a big storm, the dog-walking clients begin complaining that items have gone missing from their homes; among the missing items are a Mr. Universe gold medal, a laptop, and money. Since there are no indications of forced entry, the service falls under suspicion, and clients begin leaving. Stephen and Renée, now firmly established friends and cohorts, still walk, and are very fond of, Ping and Pong, the delightful pair of boisterous dogs owned by a loyal client. Desperate to save the family business, Renée and Stephen start examining a trail of clues that lead to a missing python that no amount of frozen mice can lure back. There are plenty of eccentric characters and suspects in this seemingly mostly white town. Stephen has not given up his compulsion to count mistakes, believing that “mistakes are good things. They help us discover amazing stuff,” and he seems less awkward in his own skin than in series opener The Best Mistake Mystery (2017). There is, however, no intriguing tension to this whodunit, and the plot becomes convoluted, with an overabundance of players, making this one for readers in it for the puzzle instead of the action.
A good choice for middle graders who enjoy teasing out the red herrings from the clues. (Mystery. 9-12)