Amanda's Reviews > Beaglemania

Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston
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's review
Mar 31, 2011

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bookshelves: mystery
Read from March 31 to April 13, 2011

The Publisher’s Weekly review of Beaglemania says it all in a nutshell with its description: “less than engaging first in a new series.” The story is a fairly predictable cozy mystery set in an animal shelter with little focus on character development. Not terrible, just not terribly exciting.

I have not read the author’s Pet-Sitter series, from which Beaglemania is apparently a spinoff book. Beaglemania’s heroine, Lauren Vancouver, is the administrator at HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter and unwittingly becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her employee, Efram Kiley, an animal abuser employed at HotRescues as part of a legal settlement. Though it is clear the author’s knowledge of animals comes into play with the setting of the book in an animal shelter, the plot suffers from an overabundance of narration delivered by Lauren as opposed to dialogue and character interaction.

Predictably, and seemingly with total disregard for how her actions will be perceived by police, Lauren decides to do some amateur sleuthing to find the real killer and prove her innocence. In pursuit of this goal, she confronts family and friends of the deceased at their work place(s) and questions them, agrees to do a TV interview with NewsShakers, a tabloid television program who unsurprisingly misrepresents her on air—then grants a follow-up quote to the same reporter!—and calls Detective Garciana who is investigating her to ask his opinion on how best to conduct her own investigation of the case.
I was somewhat irritated by a few of the seemingly dumb decisions Lauren makes during the course of her investigation. A grown woman who has been divorced, raised two college-aged kids, and holds a position of administrator to a rescue shelter almost certainly has to be more intelligent than to exacerbate herself as a murder suspect by antagonizing the detective investigating her. Lauren’s actions did not create the impression she felt any real fear that she might end up in prison despite her innocence.

However, if you are a fan of “cozy mysteries” – gentle mysteries in which a likeable small-town heroine with a particular skill-set (in this case knowledge of animals) that will be utilized to further her amateur sleuthing – then you may enjoy this story. I would hope that future novels in this series focus more heavily on the characters and developing their relationships with each other. Most of the secondary characters in Beaglemania are non-entities, with only two real suspects provided for readers to guess whodunit. I was disappointed in the lack of attention devoted to the love interest—Capt. Matt Kingston of Animal Services, particularly when Lauren cites him as a suspect in the murder. I would have preferred to “see” Lauren’s relationship develop on the pages rather than read summaries of most of their conversations.

All in all, not a bad read if you are a fan of this genre, but if you prefer more exciting, thought-provoking mysteries, you may want to look elsewhere.
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