Thursday, August 09, 2007

Gun Shy - Donna Ball

Gun Shy
A Raine Stockton Dog Mystery
Donna Ball


The instant that Raine arrives at the vacation cabin near the Smoky Mountains, she knows it’s going to be bad. For a start, the sheriff’s deputies and the sheriff, her Uncle Roe, are all gathered outside. From inside, she can hear the hoarse, desperate barking of a dog. Passersby heard the dog for days before finally reporting it. Inside the cabin is the body of a woman; an apparent suicide. Also inside the cabin is a retriever who has barked for days, trying to get someone’s attention, and who has gouged the closed door to the bedroom, trying to get to his dead mistress.

Getting the dog out of the cabin is only the beginning. What looks like an unfathomable suicide quickly starts to look more suspicious as the woman’s identity and background come to light. The woman, Michelle White, was supposedly unable to use the right side of her body. But, if that’s the case, why was the gun that killed her found in her right hand? And why would someone come to the Smoky Mountains on vacation in order to commit suicide? The lack of even basic food, human or canine, in the cabin is curious, too. At the moment, only the dog, named Hero by Raine, knows what really happened. And Raine is determined to find out the truth.

The first twenty or so pages deal with Raine’s meeting with, and rescue of, Hero. If you can read those pages and not feel your heart twist, you need to take a refresher course in being human. Those scenes serve to perfectly, if painfully, pull the reader into the story and into Raine’s shoes. Time spent dealing with her kennel business, various others’ dogs, and her own dog, Cisco, make a nice counterpoint to the opening scenes. After being in that cabin, and taking in Hero, it makes perfect sense that Raine would want to fully investigate the suspicious death. This is the third in a series, following RAPID FIRE, and newcomers will find it very easy to jump in here. The best new is that, so far, the author has managed to surpass herself with each new installment.

Rating: 7 ½
August 2007
ISBN# 978-0-451-22189-6 (paperback)


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