Monday, November 24, 2014

The Curious Affair of the Third Dog: Review

Henry sighed and thought wistfully of the classic murders of fiction--the aristocratic house-party, neatly cut off by snow or floods to limit the number of suspects; the multiplicity of unlikely motives and opportunities; the tortuous investigations of  the amateur sleuth; and the final denouement, in which the murderer turns out to be the elderly, gentle maiden aunt--beloved by all, but unmasked as a sub-human fiend in the final chapter. (p. 9)

It is no spoiler to tell you that Inspector Henry Tibbett is out of luck in The Curious Affair of the Third Dog. There are no gentle maiden aunts to be had--the most gentle woman in the entire book is his very own wife Emmy and she's no crazy killer.

The story begins with Emmy heading to the country to spend a holiday with her sister Jane whose main occupation these days is as a representative of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The house is overflowing with foster animals (in addition to the pets who live there full-time). When Henry arrives he finds the village up in arms because one of their own has just been sent to prison for a year for reckless homicide (killing a man while under the influence) and Jane up in arms because one of the man's animals has disappeared. She had gone to his house to collect his three dogs for safe-keeping while he was in prison, but when she arrived there were only two. What happened to the third dog?

Once Henry hears the full story of the drunken homicide and learns that the missing dog is a greyhound, his official "nose" begins to twitch and he senses a connection with a case he had been investigating in London. Soon Henry's entire team is on the case--all searching for a missing hound. But Henry will be beaten, tied up, dumped in the shed of a released criminal, shot, and dressed up in drag before the crime is brought home to the proper criminals and his men find not one... but two missing greyhounds.

This one was great fun--lots of interesting information about greyhounds (and other animals), nicely understated police procedural work--making the officers' actions realistic without bogging the reader down with official details and tedious checking and double-checking. Worth the price of admission for the image of Henry dressed up in his sister-in-law's blouse and skirt with a random nurse's blonde wig in order to sneak out of hospital. We're given enough detail to solve the mystery right along with Henry, but just enough is kept back to allow for a twist or two at the end. Well done and a good reminder of why I enjoy Patricia Moyes' detective novels. ★★★★


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Never read Moyes but this sounds great - thanks Bev!

Bev Hankins said...

Sergio: I love Moyes--great mix of police procedural with a tough of cozy (Emmy in the background).

Peggy Ann said...

Putting her on my list to look for! This does sound like a fun read.

J F Norris said...

I must've read one of her books back when I was a teen, but for the life of me I don't remember anything about Tibbett or her books. Is there anything about the cruelty of dog racing since greyhounds are in the book? Or is that only an American thing?

fredamans said...

A missing dog? That has me already panicking! :-)
Great review!

Bev Hankins said...

John--it doesn't focus too much on the racing end of things (although part of the twist does depend on it...) and it definitely doesn't show any of the cruelty that can happen. A brief mention of what some unethical racing dog owners might do with a dog that's past its prime--but no one actually does anything to any of the dogs involved.