Tag Archives: dog lovers

Disco Inferno

One Dog Night: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 400 pages)

A lot of people claim to be able to judge someone’s emotional state by looking in their eyes.   I don’t make eye contact, so that’s a talent I’ve never perfected.   When I talk to people, I generally look at their mouth, so while I can’t judge emotions, I’m pretty good at identifying cavities.

Andy Carpenter is the featured character in last year’s release by David Rosenfelt, One Dog Night.   Rosenfelt spins a most enjoyable yarn, so enjoyable that I read into the night only putting the book down after reading the last page.   This time around, Andy, Laurie, Maurice and the rest of the defense team are challenged by a client who believes he is guilty of a heinous crime, mass murder by fire.

Noah Calloway, the client, has been an upstanding citizen for many years after turning his life around, and away from addiction.   Noah has a deep, gnawing sense of guilt about a fire that killed 26 people; however, he does not remember setting the fire.   His wife, Becky, won’t accept a guilty plea and she takes her case to Andy.   There is, of course, a reason Andy can’t refuse Becky’s request.   Tara, Andy’s beloved dog, was Noah’s dog (nee Hanna) before she was placed for adoption because Noah’s addiction made him unfit to care for the dog.

Once Andy gets to know Noah, he realizes that there is no way this gentle man could have incinerated 26 people in an apartment building.   The task at hand is to find the arsonist and assure Noah’s exoneration.   The plot contains a generous helping of twists and offshoots.   While the main characters are familiar to fans of this series, the rest of the players are an odd assortment of famous and infamous folks who make the story take on a patchwork effect.   Everyone has a piece of the puzzle.

The race to the solution is very engaging.   Rosenfelt’s puns and the smart mouth he has given to Andy make it a page-turning delight.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   One Dog Night is also currently available as a Kindle Edition or Nook Book download, and as an Audible audiobook.   It will be released in paperback form on May 22, 2012.

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A Small Furry Prayer

A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler (Bloomsbury; $25.00; 320 pages)

Animal lovers of each and every type will love A Small Furry Prayer.   I’m a cat person and yet this story got me to thinking about the joys of living with a dog.   Note that I deliberately did not use the phrase “owning a dog,” as Kotler makes clear that every canine retains a measure of independence.

“My home was now an environment where some level of danger and unpredictability – two of the defining characteristics of wildness – were part of the basic package.”

This tale of a dog rescuing fortyish couple starts in Los Angeles before moving to the comparative wilds of New Mexico.   They begin by serving as emergency foster parents to one dog, then two before winding up living in a dilapidated farm-house in Chimayo, New Mexico – with 20 dogs!   (They later lose count of the total when it exceeds 20.)  

Steven Kotler and his wife Joy (known to the locals as el angel de los perros) wind up being less foster parents than the providers of a wooly home for abandoned dogs.   Because six or so of the dogs are Chihuahuas their abode comes to be known as Rancho de Chihuahua.

The Kotlers don’t have a lot of money in 2008 but nevertheless they must purchase $500 worth of good quality dog food each week (sickly dogs require good nutrition) and spend their savings on expensive life-saving operations for their wards.   Kotler is sceptical that he’s going to get much payback from this situation other than having kept his commitment to following Joy’s number one rule in life:  “Love me, love my dogs.”

Eventually, of course, Kotler gets his reciprocation in the form of love and acceptance from the rescued dogs, some of whom had been feral and mistrusting of humans.   And there’s the instance in which one of the dogs saves the author’s life when a mountain climbing expedition goes bad.   The dogs, in a sense, demonstrate that love and affection is always paid back in full.

As a former newspaper and magazine writer, Kotler is used to doing extensive research and in this book he includes many fascinating summaries of research performed with animals.   Much of the research verifies the benefits – mental and physical – that dogs and other animals bring to our existence.   Kotler also makes a convincing case for the notion that the modern dog is just as smart as (but perhaps shrewder than) his wolf ancestors.

At the end of Prayer, the reader will likely come to accept the positive message that our lives on this planet are meant to be shared with furry creatures; creatures that are never owned but which reward us with their unique and special presence.   Part of the truth about what it really means to be human can be expressed in the phrase, “Love me, love my animals.”

Well recommended.

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   A review copy was received from the publisher.   A Small Furry Prayer will be released by Bloomsbury USA on Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

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A Doggone Good Giveaway

We’ve loved the dog-related crime novels from David Rosenfelt.   We earlier reviewed both New Tricks (on December 17, 2009) and Open and Shut (December 18, 2009) and listed them both as highly recommended.   Now, Mr. Rosenfelt has a new book coming out soon, Dog Tags.   This Andy Carpenter series novel will be released on August 25, 2010 and will carry a list price of $24.99.   But we would like to give away a copy of Dog Tags for free.

The copy to be given away in this contest is an Advanced Reading Copy in pristine (A grade) condition.   Dog Tags is already rated as a 5-star book at Barnes and Noble.   Our intent is to choose a winner on Saturday, August 21, 2010 which should leave just enough time for the winner to receive the ARC on or near the book’s publication date.

Author David Rosenfelt is the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures.   He now lives in southern California with his family and stable of 35 dogs.   Here is a synopsis of Dog Tags:

A German Shepard police dog witnesses a murder and if his owner – an Iraq war vet and former cop-turned-thief – is convicted of the crime, the dog could be put down.   Few rival defense attorney’s Andy Carpenter’s affection for dogs, and he decides to represent the poor canine.   As Andy struggles to convince a judge that this dog should be set free, he discovers that the dog and his owner have become unwittingly involved in a case of much greater proportions than the one they’ve been charged with.   Andy will have to call upon the unique abilities of this ex-police dog to help solve the crime and prevent a catastrophic event from taking place.

Interested?   In order to enter this book giveaway, here’s all you have to do.   Just post a message here with your name and e-mail address, or send an e-mail with this information to Josephsreviews@gmail.com .   (E-mail addresses will only be used to contact the winner.)   This will count as a first entry.   For a second entry, explain why you think a dog would make a good or great crime detective.  

The winner – whose name will be chosen at random by Munchy the cat – will be contacted by e-mail and asked to supply his/her residential mailing address ASAP.   Yes, it must be a residential (street) mailing address in the U.S. rather than a P.O. box or a business-related address.    

You have until midnight PST on Friday, August 20, 2010 to submit your entry or entries.   Good reading and good luck!

“I’ve got a thing about dogs; I am totally and completely crazy about them…  Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the criminal justice system, but the average dog I know is paws and shoulders above my species.”   David Rosenfelt

Note:  Dog Tags will be published by Grand Central Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group U.S.A.   To read our earlier reviews of books by David Rosenfelt just enter his name in the SEARCH IT! box on this site and hit enter.

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One Good Dog (a preview)

One Good Dog is a novel by Susan Wilson that was released today on St. Martin’s/Macmillan.   We haven’t had a chance to look at it yet but writer Rita Mae Brown says, “One good dog equals one great book!”   And here’s what Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain says:  “One Good Dog is a wonderful novel:  a moving, tender and brilliantly crafted story about two fighters – one a man, one a dog – hoping to leave the fight behind, who ultimately find their salvation in each other.   Susan Wilson’s clear and unflinching style is perfectly suited for her story that strips away the trappings and toys we all hide behind, and exposes our essential need to give and accept love in order to thrive.”

Here is the way One Good Dog opens:

He was a rough-looking thing.   Big ears, wiry hair.   His muzzle just beginning to grizzle.   He looked like the sort who’d been living outside of society for a while, maybe never really been a companion.   After a long parade of supplicants appearing before me, each wanting me to choose him or her, their noses pressed up to the chain-link fence that separated us, there was something in this one’s deep brown eyes, not a pleading – pleading I can overlook – but something else.   A quiet dignity, maybe even an aloofness, as if he really didn’t need me or my kind being nice to him.   Yes.   That was it, a haughtiness that declared he needed no one’s pity; he shouldn’t even be here.   Don’t look at me; I’m only here by coercion.

Our eyes met and held, but then he turned away.   Beta to my alpha.   But in that brief gaze, I saw something I recognized.   Maybe it was just that I saw my own independent streak, the one that has kept me on top.   Or the eyes of a fighter down on his luck, but with memories of recent glory.   Maybe I saw that underneath the rough exterior lay a heart, like mine, not entirely hard.   You’ve got to be tough to live in the world, whether your lip is curled in real anger or fear aggression, you have to be ready to carry out the threat.   This battle-scarred fella understood that, and on that basis I made my decision.   He was the one for me.

So I wagged my tail.

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