In Bassets and Blackmail by Sandra Baublitz, Clarissa Hayes participates in helping her friends, William and Patricia Innsman, open their new inn, Peaceful Dreams B&B, with a murder mystery weekend. She joins the group for a dinner in which guests and actors in the murder game get to know each other, and William shows everyone a valuable bottle of wine he found in the basement when they bought the inn. Then he publicly puts the bottle in the basement. At 2:00 a.m., Clarissa gets a call that one of the guests, Thomas Cafferty, has been killed when he fell down the basement steps. The bottle of expensive wine is missing.
Involving her private investigator boyfriend, Bruce, Clarissa and her detective St. Bernard, Paw, seek out the truth, while Clarissa’s Uncle Harry, the sheriff?, also looks into the case. It could have been one of a dozen people who might have committed the murder. Paw and several other dogs help in the investigation. Then Clarissa discovers another mystery when Saber, the black cat with attitude who belongs to senior citizen Lillian, shows up with a sparkling bracelet as a collar.
Bassets and Blackmail is a lighthearted, fun cozy mystery with some creative details. I enjoyed the way the animals made a significant contribution to the solution of the case and the various ways they found to participate. I also appreciated the setting of a B&B’s holding a murder mystery game. The best character was the senior citizen (I think nonagenarian?) Lillian, owner of the black cat, Saber. She insists, against the dubious objections of the group of amateur detectives, upon watching over the team by participating in the solution of the case. I found myself thoroughly loving Lillian.
However, there were a couple details that did affect my enjoyment of the book. For one thing, Bassets and Blackmail is listed as book two in the Dog Detective Series. However, it felt as if I had missed at least one book in the series. There were references to the town and to people as if we the readers should know them, but they did not seem familiar at all. This proved to be disconcerting. The other issue that made this audiobook a little difficult to listen to is that it contained many characters, few of whom were especially memorable or crucial to remember. This made the book confusing and tricky at times to listen to. Further, a character named Jack was a woman, which contributed to the confusion. The multiplicity of animals made them, other than the main character, Paw, and the main cat, Saber, difficult to keep straight. It is possible that these issues would be less complicated if one were to read the book visually, but for an audiobook, it was hard to follow.
Nancy Bober narrates the audio edition of this book. She uses good expression in her performance, especially given the confusion I experienced with the numerous characters. I would have liked more realistic animal sounds, especially given the high quality animal noises voiced by other narrators. However, Bober does a generally admirable job of creating this audiobook.
Overall, I appreciated listening to Bassets and Blackmail. It was just the right touch of humorous and gentle at a time when I needed some fun and distraction from my severe migraine. I give the book four stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
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