Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Barker Street Regulars: Review

The Barker Street Regulars (1998) is the eleventh book in Susan Conant's Dog Lover's Mysteries and my first taste of the series. Other than missing any background information on Holly Winter and her relationship with Steve Delaney, vet to her two Malamutes Rowdy & Kimi and her lover, I couldn't see that dropping into series in mid-stream was any problem.

In this particular outing, Holly and Rowdy are working on his Rx.D. (therapy dog) certification by making visits to the Gateway Rehabilitation and Nursing Home Center. They become particularly close to Althea Battlefield, a formidable woman at the age of ninety, who is a devotee of Sherlock Holmes. Althea and her two equally elderly admirers, Hugh and Robert, spend many visits discussing obscure points in the Canon and quoting large chunks of the stories to one another. Holly begins rereading the stories just so she can keep up.

But when Althea's sister Ceci begins having visits from a "giant" hound--supposedly the ghost of her beloved Simon. The Holmes aficionados get interested. And when Althea and Ceci's visiting nephew is murdered in the garden and the footprints of the hound are discovered nearby, they recruit Holly and Rowdy (alias "Toby" from the Canon) to help them track down the culprit. Meanwhile, Holly has rescued a cat from being drowned by evil-looking man (whose description might remind readers of a certain Professor) and it begins to look like it might tie in to the mysterious goings-on at Ceci's house. Throw in an animal psychic, Irene Wheeler, whom Holly believes to be up to no good--if for no other reason than because Gloria and Scott (last name unknown--or I totally missed it and can't find it in the book now) have consulted her about a surgery that Steve performed on Gloria's dog and the psychic says it was totally unnecessary. Now Gloria and Scott are spreading ugly rumors about the vet and Holly is sure that it's all Irene Wheeler's doing. Irene has also been influential in making Ceci believe that Simon is comign back to visit her. But is Irene anything more than just a fraud taking advantage of the naive and desperate? The Barker Street Regulars are following in The Master's footsteps and are hot on the trail....

A very fluffy cozy mystery (no pun intended--well, maybe just a little bit) that is particularly well-suited to dog lovers as well as all those who enjoy animals in their mysteries. The Holmes connection was equal parts fun and annoying. I enjoyed the elderly trio of Holmes aficionados, especially the two gentlemen playing Holmes and trying to capture the killer with Holly's (and Rowdy's!) help. But a lot of the Holmes connections seemed very forced and contrived.

Also, I realize that Holly was a bit distracted with her rescue of the cat, trying to incorporate said cat into her household where two Malamutes hold sway, and trying to figure out how to get Gloria & Scott (there's a Holmes connection for you) to stop bad-mouthing her veterinarian lover--but she really did fall down on the job when it came to identifying what had happened to the missing dog. You'd think someone as connected to dogs as she is would have gotten that right away.

The plot itself is solid, though fairly straight forward. The ground is not exactly thick with suspects, so it isn't difficult to figure out who the culprit is. Entertaining and a fairly good afternoon's read. ★★

 [Finished on 7/20/17]

1 comment:

Tarissa said...

What fun! Sounds like it could be entertaining enough.