As Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis opens, Holly Miller gets a phone call while supporting her boyfriend, Ben, in a trip with his boss summoning her to the side of her “Oma,” German for grandmother. Holly rushes to Wagtail, VA to see her Oma one last time, as she supposes. On the way, she gets adopted by a filthy, starving terrier while at the gas station. Arriving at the Sugar Maple Inn, which her Oma owns, Holly tries to figure out how to sneak the little dog into the hotel, only to discover that the entire town of Wagtail has gone to the dogs. And cats too. But they seem to discriminate against bunnies and birds. The hotel is made specially to accommodate people’s dogs and cats, with certain rooms designated just for cats and special play areas for pets. All the businesses and restaurants in the city allow patrons to be accompanied by their canine or feline (but as I said, not avian or lagamorph) companions. Another surprise for Holly is to find that Oma is not dying either. However, an employee of her inn was just killed in an act that looks to have been murder. And in another day, the mayor gets murdered too.
Holly spends time in Wagtail reconnecting with old friends she once knew as a child when she spent all her summers with her Oma. But despite all the gossip raging through the town on every topic, no one admits to knowing anything about the murders. While bonding with the newly-named Trixie and the calico kitten Twinkletoes who has also adopted Holly, Holly goes on a number of adventures, especially when she receives a text message proposal from Ben a day before he shows up in Wagtail with Kim, his ex-girlfriend and boss’s daughter.
The book begins with an intriguing first chapter but then takes its time to build up. It actually meanders its way through the story. A lot happens, but I can’t say more without giving away plot secrets. I especially like the animals seen throughout the book, who play key roles in helping to solve the murders.
Jeanie Kanaley performs the narration of the audio edition of this book. I especially liked Kanaley’s depiction of the pets, whom she really brings to life. Her narration comes across as very strong, depicting the actions of both humans and animals as realistic. The book does not anthropomorphize the animals, as some books do, but the narrator does a lot to give them real personae.
Murder, She Barked ends with a creative conclusion, something I did not expect. It comes across as a bit convoluted and confusing to this story. The inclusion of animals is what gives the book its strength. Without them, I might not have given the book a favorable review. Instead, I wish I could visit Wagtail to socialize with all the animals there. I give the book three and a half stars.
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