Barbara, Faye, and Retta return for another adventure in 3 Sleuths, 2 Dogs, 1 Murder by Maggie Pill. The older two sisters, the owners and managers of the Smart Detective Agency, call Retta, their younger sister, to ask if she has been dating Winston Darrow, who has hired them because he has been accused of murdering his wife. Realizing that Retta will be trashed in the media as “the other woman” for whom Win allegedly committed this murder, the sisters agree to investigate the case and get embroiled in the most dangerous situation of their lives.
It doesn’t take long for the police to arrest Win, and while he is in jail, a man comes to the detective agency to demand that the sisters work for him to retrieve a book that he claims Win has stolen from him. Criminals soon become involved, and the troubles increase until the boo ends with a dramatic show-down that requires the sisters to work together to survive.
The two dogs in the title were a fun addition to the book, having their own characters. Now that her children have grown up, Retta pours out her mothering instincts on her Newfoundland, Styx, who has never met a person or other dog he doesn’t adore but often scares strangers by jumping on them to demand love. The second dog, Buddy, is on the side of the road after being hit by a car when Faye finds him and takes him in. The dynamic of how the sisters relate to each other’s and their own dogs gives the women a chance to demonstrate their unique personalities further. The dogs also play roles in the denouement of the book.
This book, as in Sleuth Sisters, is written from the perspective of the sisters, who take turns narrating each chapter. We gain insight into each woman both from her own descriptions of her situation and from seeing her through the eyes of her sister. I especially enjoyed seeing how each woman colors her depiction of events to give her actions the best light.
As in the previous book, the theme of this book is the value of sisters’ working together to pool their strengths. The book is one of the empowerment of women, that sex, age, and marital status cannot stand in the way of success in their personal or professional lives. It also addresses men’s roles in women’s lives, contrasting unhealthy men like Win with healthy men, who will partner with women to bring out their strengths and encourage women to be themselves.
The audio version of this book is very well done, with Anne Jacques reading Barbara’s chapters, Laura Bednarski reading Faye’s chapters, and Judy Blue reading Retta’s chapters. Each narrator sounds like the woman she portrays, but they also do a good job of voicing the parts of the other sisters to sound like the other narrators of the book. I think people should really consider listening to this book rather than reading it because of the great narration.
3 Sleuths 2 Dogs 1 Murder has a really interesting plot, which I highly enjoyed. But its particular strength is the way it takes a cozy mystery and weaves in so many themes of women working together and with the men in their lives to strengthen the quality of their lives and bring out their best. I think that readers of FangirlNation, even those who do not usually like cozy mysteries, will really appreciate this book. I give it five stars.
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