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Drop Dead on Recall (An Animals in Focus Mystery #1)

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3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Dogs, cats, and murderous misdeeds

Animal photographer and dog show handler Janet MacPhail knows it’s the sure-footed, finely trained canine competitors that steal the attention in the obedience ring. But all eyes are on widely disliked star handler Abigail Dorn when she falls down dead at the drop on recall command with her border collie, Pip, an Obedience Trial Champion.

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Paperback, 389 pages
Published October 2012 by Midnight Ink
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bea
f you aren’t a dog lover, this might not be the right book for you. I like dogs but I’m not a dog lover and at times the story dragged. We get an up close and detailed look at dog shows and their culture, as well as a look at breeding purebred dogs. Mixed in with the murder mysteries are a sweet budding romance and the travails of an aging parent.

Janet is likable; she isn’t a morning person, loves animals, has bills to pay, puts housekeeping low on her priority list (which actually works to her
...more
Ann Sloan
Aug 04, 2012 Ann Sloan rated it it was ok
In a word, meh. The subculture of dog obedience trials rang true for me. (I have learned a bit about dog shows second-hand from my wire-haired fox terrier breeder. BTW, wires are not big on obedience.) An in-bred world (I’m talking about human inter-relationships, not the dog kind) produces jealousy, envy, long-held grudges, suspicion, everything that goes with hyper-competition. It’s an expensive undertaking (not unlike dressage, in the news now), with little financial compensation to show for ...more
Nancy
Sep 07, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
Janet MacPhail, animal photographer and owner of an Australian Shepherd, watches the cutthroat dog obedience trial competition, and witnesses Abigail Dorn collapse as she commanded her Border Collie to "drop on recall." While Abigail's death is on the verge of being declared a homicide, Janet is wondering who would want Abigail, who was not well liked in dog circles, dead? Plus someone thinks Janet is too close to the truth: Scary things have been happening, including an attempted poisoning of J ...more
Stacy
Mar 27, 2013 Stacy rated it it was ok
I had really high hopes for this book and thought it was great until about a third of the way in. Then...I started losing interest. Finally gave up at the halfway point and flipped to the end to see who the killer was, only to be rather disappointed because I couldn't even remember who the character was. The book just moved too slowly for me. Oh well. They can't all be winners! Ha...just inadvertently made a dog show joke.
Tracy Weber
Sep 03, 2013 Tracy Weber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you love dogs, love mysteries, or even just love a funny, lighthearted read, this book is for you. Ms Boneham's work reminds me a lot of Susan Conant's early work. A light-hearted, easy read filled with amusing characters and lots of true-to-life info form the dog show world. Highly recommended!
LORI CASWELL
Oct 15, 2012 LORI CASWELL rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
When a top-ranked competitor keels over at a dog obedience trial, photographer Janet MacPhail is swept up in a maelstrom of suspicion, jealousy, cut-throat competition, death threats, pet-napping, and murder. She becomes a “person of interest” to the police, and apparently to major hunk Tom Saunders as well. As if murder and the threat of impending romance aren't enough to drive her bonkers, Janet has to move her mother into a nursing home, and the old lady isn't going quietly. Janet finds solac ...more
Mary Brown
Aug 06, 2014 Mary Brown rated it it was amazing
Drop Dead On Recall by Sheila Webster Boneham is a great mystery that takes place in the world of dog obedience training. It is suspenseful, informative and very well written.

Janet is a freelance photographer, whose specialty is pet photos. She is also involved in obedience training with her dog Jay. During one of the competitions, another trainer collapses and eventually dies. Janet unknowingly places evidence in her dishwasher and cleans up possible clues. Because of this, Janet is a “person o
...more
Lelia Taylor
Sep 08, 2012 Lelia Taylor rated it really liked it
Shelves: full-reviews
I’ve never been to a dog show, although I’ve often thought I’d like to do so (or perhaps a cat show). In the meantime, I enjoy the various shows on TV and can easily imagine the drama and shenanigans that must go on behind the scenes. I don’t usually imagine murder but I also don’t think such a thing is impossible, especially when the desire to win runs high.

Drop Dead on Recall is a delight, a good mystery with characters I came to like very much. I can relate to Janet having to balance work wit
...more
Lis Carey
May 26, 2012 Lis Carey rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, dogs, fiction
This is a really fun mystery, set in the AKC dog world--in this case, the dog obedience circuit.It captures in a fun way both the nutty obsessiveness and the genuine love of animals that so often characterize the competitive dog world.

Janet McPhail is a professional photographer who competes, for fun, in dog obedience with her Aussie (Australian shepherd), Jay. On one fine, sunny morning, they're at a competition, and a far more serious competitor, Abigail Dorn, falls to the ground, in obvious d
...more
Christy English
Sep 16, 2012 Christy English rated it it was amazing
A Delightful Murder Mystery

I wondered about the title for this review when I first began this post, but I could not think of a better way to describe Sheila Webster Boneham's mystery other than delightful. I picked up this novel knowing that I was biased in her favor. Sheila is one of my writing friends, so it was a marvelous thing to pick up her first novel and find myself forgetting about my good friend Sheila as I became immersed in the mystery.

As I watched the mystery unfold one clue, one de
...more
Melissa
Sep 24, 2012 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Although cats are my primary passion, I have long been a fan of the dog mysteries of Susan Conant, Lauren Berenson, and Donna Ball. Drop Dead on Recall, the first Animals in Focus Mystery by Sheila Webster Boneham, rates right up there with the best of the best. Animal photographer/dog enthusiast Janet MacPhail, her Australian Shepherd Jay and orange tabby Leo (who has a predominant role in the story, even cluing this reader in to the identity of the killer based on his actions), drew me right i ...more
Michelle
Dec 10, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
(3.5 stars) The first book in a new series introduces us to Janet, a freelance photographer specializing in pet photography. Janet also trains her dog, an Australian Shepard in obedience. While at an obedience trial, a top competitor begins to act strangely and collapses in the ring. Janet offers to take her dog temporarily. When news gets out that the woman has died, Janet is shocked by the news, particularly when she finds out that the death was suspicious. Janet is under suspicion herself whe ...more
Nancy Rogan
Mar 03, 2013 Nancy Rogan rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The author has written many other books, mostly nonfiction, but this is the first of a new series. You MUST love dogs to read this because everything revolves around them. Her style is easy to read and flows nicely with touches of humor that are just right. The mystery is good, although I figured it out pretty early, but that's all right. The action moves along and the touch of romance is nice - and funny when you can relate to a more mature woman who is not a size 2 ...more
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Oct 24, 2012 Jeannie and Louis Rigod rated it really liked it
This was a debut novel revolving around the world of animal training and performing.

A competitor dies during a trial test and what at first appears to be a heart attack is anything but. Our new friend animal photographer, Janet MacPhail turns sleuth when her good-neighbor action (taking home the deceased's pet home for a while,) gets her targeted.

The novel is filled with information on dog training, and the lives of persons that take on the difficult job of being a dog owner, trainer, or both! W
...more
Amy
Sep 01, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok
Series Debut

I liked some pieces and parts of this story, but for me, things did not gel as well as they should have.

I loved her description of her Aussie, Jay. He reminds me so much of my friend, Pam's dog, Abby. She seriously nailed the description, especially the bouncing.

I am glad that she included a cast of characters at the beginning of the book. I sincerely believe that author, Boneham had way too many characters in this story. It was hard to keep track of who was who, even later in the st
...more
Malka Essock
Oct 04, 2014 Malka Essock rated it it was amazing
my favorite part came in the begining, i was wondering, why? at the dog show she was noticing a pen full of malamutes, without mentioning their humans, a few paragraphs later.... oh! that's why the malamutes. :) (you will just have to read to find out why) i really enjoyed the single older(ish) protagonist, who did not behave stereotypically. of course, i enjoyed the dogs and cat. "the who dun it" kept me guessing till the end. i can't wait to hang out with Janet and her gang again! (and hopeful ...more
Antoinette
Dec 12, 2012 Antoinette rated it really liked it
Sheila Boneham came to my NC Triangle Sisters in Crime meeting and gave a presentation on tracking with her adorable Lab. I knew that I would have to read her mystery, Drop Dead on Recall that features animal photographer and field trial competitor Janet MacPhail. Janet finds herself in the middle of not one, but two murder mysteries involving fellow competitors. Risking her own safety and that of her Australian Shepherd Jay and her cat Leo, she investigates while coping with her Mother's illnes ...more
Ann Boytim
Jul 09, 2014 Ann Boytim rated it liked it
Competition in the dog world sometimes gets fierce and owners do not always agree and others covert other owners dogs. At one competition a dog handler falls to the floor and she dies. At first it was thought it was a bee sting shock but it was later to be found out that it was poison that killed her.Janet McPhail can hardly believe someone would resort to murder. Janet has to take care of her mother who is in the stages of dementia and trying to find a safe home for her. Janet's friends with th ...more
Mary
May 17, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it
Oh, my. I wanted to like this book...dogs, dog obedience, mystery, romance, 50-something heroine ...but oy vey,the writing!If drowning in metaphors like you're a leaf in a high wind lost at sea without a paddle in the whirling windy tornado is the way you want to spend your summer vacation, this book is for you.

My favorite sentence comes after the narrator/heroine has just listened to a voice mail threatening her dog. She says, "The ice in those words blasted like brainfreeze through my skull, b
...more
Jackie
Dec 07, 2012 Jackie rated it liked it
I'm surprised that this is the author's first foray into fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this "cozy" mystery - even though it wasn't very mysterious. I liked the characters, the humor and the cleanliness of the writing.

I'll be sure to watch for the next installment.

(Although, I still wonder at that unfinished part of the story about the neighbor, Goldie, and what was wrong with her...or did I read too fast and miss the resolution?)
Susan
Oct 03, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-indiana
Pet photographer and dog lover Janet MacPhail is at obedience trials when wealthy Abigail Dorn suddenly dies. Abby was respected for her love of dogs, but resented for her often superior attitude. Since she was a young, healthy woman, the police investigate, and Janet is asked to explain some dog-related terms. A second death follows and Janet, fearing she's a suspect, does a little snooping on her own, which leads to danger for her and her pets.
Alicia
Apr 23, 2015 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
I really enjoyed this story. It was a great first book in the series. I cant wait to read the next one. Janet is a photographer and she also shows her dog, Jay, at competitions. At one of those competitions a competitor falls over dead. Is it murder? Janet intends to find out. She knows more than the murderer would like and her life is then put in danger, not to mention her dog and cat's lives as well. A great read.
Marcy Graybill
Jan 16, 2017 Marcy Graybill rated it really liked it
For some reason when I started this book, I didn't want to like it. but I did. The main character is me, a middle aged woman with an Aussie that competes in dog sports. Of course, I'm not a professional photographer and I don't solve murders (what a relief!) I thought the book was well done, the characters are likable and the dog information is accurate. I can't wait to read the second book.
Meg
Apr 17, 2013 Meg rated it liked it
A pretty good mystery with dogs, dogs and more dogs. A not very well-liked woman drops dead at an obedience trail. Was it an allergic reaction to a bee sting? A romantic rival looking to steal her husband? A super-competitive dog owner? Photographer Janet McPhail seems to be right in the middle of everything. I didn't know "who dunnit" until very close to the end.
Brenda Freeman
Aug 11, 2012 Brenda Freeman rated it liked it


Any book with dogs and their persons love for them is a good read. I always enjoy looking into the dog show world from the outside and learning more of rules and how-tos. I guessed the killer before the end, but only after making a few wrong guesses along the way. Would love there to be a sequel, the romance was just getting started at the end.
Jeanie Jackson
Oct 04, 2014 Jeanie Jackson rated it really liked it
Delightful cozy mystery! I recommended it to lovers of mysteries and dog lovers. I really had no idea who the murderer was, but when I thought back, I realized that Boneham had done a great job of giving me a chance to figure it out without making it too obvious over the other suspects.

I will be reading other books by Sheila Webster Boneham!

Joan Skinner
Jan 06, 2016 Joan Skinner rated it really liked it
I am a die hard dog show person. I love all the nuances and complexities and really enjoyed this book because the author knows dogs and dog shows also. A little slow in parts and if you are not a dog person it might not appeal to you. But then again there is knowledge about dogs to be gained from it.
John Cleland
Mar 22, 2013 John Cleland rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
What a fun read! This first book of the Animals in Focus series is fun, yes, but more than that it is a complicated mystery with a complex plot and a cast of dog-world characters that are so life-like it's actually kind of scary. I know a lot of them from my 20-plus years hanging around the show ring and performance world. It is a wild, somewhat whacky--oh, and deadly--tale.
Lynn
May 30, 2013 Lynn rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Easy to read, fun, kept me guessing! Of course it really hit home as it is about a person who does dog obedience, as i do. Author is in the dog world, so she is very accurate the sub-cultures of owners who compete in obedience, breed dogs, etc. i cant tell you the only "issue" i have with the plot because it would spoil your fun!
Susan
Jun 23, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Sheila's book, "Drop Dead On Recall." She showed the depth of the relationship that those of us train and compete with our dogs have as well as a great mystery. It was difficult for me to want to put the book down. It was great fun to read a book that revolved around the sport that I love. Great reading!
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Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction and nonfiction, much of it focused on animals, nature, and travel. She doesn't like to be labeled -- just as she reads across genres, Sheila also writes across genres. She is currently working on a novel, a series of short stories, a series of essays about traveling the U.S. by train, and a book-length meditation on the human-canine connection. Sheila teaches ...more
More about Sheila Webster Boneham...

Other Books in the Series

An Animals in Focus Mystery (4 books)
  • The Money Bird (Animals In Focus, #2)
  • Catwalk (An Animals in Focus Mystery, #3)
  • Shepherd's Crook

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