Friday, June 13, 2008

The Case Of The Ill-Gotten Goat - Claudia Bishop

The Case Of The Ill-Gotten Goat
The Casebook of Dr. McKenzie
Claudia Bishop
Berkley Prime Crime


Got milk? State milk inspector Melvin Staples does. About four hundred gallons of it, in fact. Unfortunately for him, he’s floating in it, after getting his skull cracked. It might be of some comfort to him to know that he’s floating in the holding tank at Tre Sorelle Dairy, a place run by 90-year-old Doucetta Capretti. Despite her age and tiny size, she certainly did everything she could to make his life miserable.

The problem was that the somatic cell count (white cells) in her dairy’s milk was over the acceptable threshold of state standards. The dairy is clean and well run, and, as even Melvin knows – knew – the state guideline was pretty much arbitrary. Second-year vet student Leslie Chou is very interested in the problem. Since the dairy is clean and the milk-producing goats are healthy, the reason for the high count is unclear. She’d like to investigate, and maybe get a paper out of the deal.

Enter Dr. Austin McKenzie, large animal vet. He’s mostly a beef man, but eventually becomes involved in the problem. In addition to the cell count puzzle, there’s the matter of Melvin in the milk. It doesn’t take long for him to discover that Melvin was a man of many enemies. He fancied himself a ladies’ man, so there are several ladies (and husbands) who might have wished him harm; Doucetta’s family at Tre Sorelle, who all stood to lose a lot of money if the dairy was shut down due to test results; even a tax assessor, who used some interesting logic to try and affect the test results. Aided by his loving wife and two trusty assistants, Dr. McKenzie is on the case.

Dr. McKenzie (THE CASE OF THE ROASTED ONION and THE CASE OF THE TOUGH-TALKING TURKEY) is a wonderfully curmudgeon-like character. This large animal practice is his second career, after retiring from Cornell, so he’s seen more than enough to know about the nature of both humans and animals. He doesn’t suffer fools, and once on a case, is determined to find the culprit. His affection for his wife and assistants temper his gruffness; his love for animals of all kinds makes him very likeable. I’m sure that would horrify him to no end. Spending a bit of time with Dr. McKenzie and friends is always a pleasure.

Rating: 7
June 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22207-2 (paperback)


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