A Chicago gumshoe uncovers unsavory canine abuse and worse.
Jan Mosby, star reporter for the glossy biweekly C-2-C, returns home one evening to find a bloody dog carcass nailed to her door. Since Jan’s long-time lover and wry amanuensis is private detective Joe Hannibal (And Flesh and Blood So Cheap, 2001), an investigation follows, with Jan’s glamorous boss Cybill Deming footing the bill and checking in from time to time on the duo’s progress. A dearth of leads translates into a circuitous probe, as Jan and Joe question a Wiccan psychic named Possibility, an animal-rights militia (the A.R.M.) with a vast Internet reach, and a motorcycle gang called the Hellraisers with impressive criminal pedigrees. The A.R.M.’s dynamic leader Adeline Clayton and her son Pip help the sleuths discover a cleverly concealed bunching (i.e., large-scale animal rustling) operation. Joe’s outrage and testosterone put him on a collision course with Lenny Mulholland, the dangerous leader of the Hellraisers. Bad as the torture and killing of canines is, Joe uncovers more and darker crimes. With only a swatch of fabric as a starting point, he finds evidence of a satanic cult and a powerful cabal targeting human victims as well.
A shaggy story made more engaging by Joe’s chivalry, the relaxed style he shares with Dundee (The Skintight Shroud, 1989, etc.), and a genuine interest in the quirks and foibles of a large cast of ordinary people.