In Paw Enforcement by Diane Kelly, Officer Megan Luz is in trouble. Only six months into her career as a police officer, she gets fed up with her disgustingly sexist partner’s offensive remarks and tasers him in the groin. Since the police chief admits she had justification for her action, he decides not to fire her but to reassign her to a new partner, a “real bitch,” complete with four legs and a tail. Megan especially can’t stand the fact that as a dog handler, she is required to serve as Sgt. Brigit’s caregiver. Initially Megan and Brigit actively do not get along, but during their training they begin to bond. Only a few weeks after taking their place on their beat, the pair goes to the mall to patrol during one of its busiest days when Brigit, trained only to detect drugs and capture bad guys, alerts to an overly full trash can in the food court. But instead of finding drugs in it, Megan spots a pipe bomb. And it has only two and a half minutes left on it.
Using all her energy, Megan manages to evacuate this end of the mall, preventing any loss of life and herself becoming one of only two casualties, as she gets “screwed in the ass” with shrapnel. Getting covered with flying food doesn’t count. Brigit is the other casualty, with a nail in her back end, but neither partner has a serious injury. To Megan’s dismay, she ends up a YouTube sensation when a news reporter questions her about her role in the bombing and asks what is in her hair. Reaching up to feel her head, she replies, “Tuna salad,” giving the perpetrator the nickname of Tunabomber, to the dismay of the bomber as well.
Eager to get justice against this terrorist, Megan offers to help out in the case and impresses the detective in charge enough to be trusted as her volunteer assistant detective.
This book rotates the perspectives of its chapters among Megan, Brigit, and the Tunabomber (a.k.a. the Rattler), but only Megan narrates in first person, and her chapters make up the vast majority of the book. The tone then shifts as we see Brigit’s angle in third person and then the Rattler’s angle also in third person. The short chapters on Brigit give a fun view into her thoughts, while the brief chapters on the Rattler each reveals a new hint to the identity and nature of this character.
One of the best elements of this book is the developing relationship between Megan and Brigit. At the beginning, both show animosity towards each other. Megan grumbles to herself upon leaving the chief’s office with Brigit, “I really don’t deserve you,” a sentiment that Brigit heartily endorses. But the night when Brigit saves Megan’s life at the mall, Megan changes her tone in saying once again, “I really don’t deserve you.” One particularly humorous scene takes place at the pet store on their way home the first day Brigit is given into Megan’s care. Selecting dog food and some biscuits, Megan is startled to see a large paw land on a box of beef jerky and alarmed to see that the box costs $9, more than she spends on herself. The pair get into a staring match. And the outcome? You’ll just have to read the book to find that out yourself!
It’s also cute to see Megan go on a few dates with Seth, a bomb squad dog handler and his dog Blast. Their dogs, who are also romantically attracted to each other, become surrogates for their discussions as the two couples double date.
Coleen Marlo narrates the audio version of this book. I really liked her voice and reading, especially the way she changes her tone for the different chapters on Brigit and the Rattler. She also does a terrific job of creating words that describe sounds, such as pop and bang.
I bought Paw Enforcement in an Audible sale with no idea what to expect of it, and I was very pleasantly surprised. My only caution to potential listeners is that unlike most cozy mysteries, this book contains some really bad language, though the language gets better after the first chapter, when Megan gets rid of her nasty partner. But as long as you can put up with bad words, this is a great book for any lover of mysteries to read, not just for fans of cozies but for lovers of most types of mystery novels. I give this book five stars!
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