Drop Dead on Recall
by Sheila Webster Boneham

Drop Dead on Recall Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

I have read several of this author’s nonfiction books on dogs and so I was quite interested to see what she would do with the topic of dog training as a murder mystery. I’m happy to say, the result is a well plotted mystery with a great deal of accurate information on dog breeding, training and agility trials.

Janet MacPhail is a middle-aged single woman who is quite comfortable in her own skin. She has an Australian Shepherd, Jay, whom she does agility training with, a lionhearted cat named Leo, and a mother who sadly doesn’t even remember who Janet is most of the time. Throughout the book, the reader really gets to know and care for Janet.

The title of the book, Drop Dead on Recall, is exactly what happened in the opening paragraphs of the book. Abigail Dorn, owner of one of the top agility dogs in the area, keeled over during the “recall” phase of the trial. Some watching thought she had faked a fall to cover up for her dog’s less than stellar run in the trials up to this point, but Janet was sure Abigail wouldn’t fool around like this. For Abigail, dog training was serious business. Her husband rushed onto the field and asked Janet to look for Abigail’s bag with her EpiPen in it as he thought she had been stung by a bee and was having an allergic reaction. Whatever the cause of Abigail’s collapse, she was in serious trouble and the EpiPen didn’t seem to have any affect at all. She died on the way to the hospital.

Since this is a murder mystery, readers will suspect that Abigail’s demise was not from an accidental bee sting and they will be correct. The question therefore is what did happen to Abigail and who wanted to harm her? Did someone want to just knock her out of the completion or was murder the goal all along? As Boneham shows readers, the sport of dog agility training can be cutthroat to say the least. Would a fellow competitor go so far as murder to win? Boneham gives readers quite an interesting puzzle to work out with several suspects popping onto the radar. And she plays fair with the reader. The twists along the way lay the clues to Abigail’s death out for the reader to find.

This is definitely a series I will be following. I would wholeheartedly suggest this book to readers who like dog mysteries such as Susan Conant’s or Laurien Berensen’s. But beyond the obvious market of readers who read dog mysteries, I would also suggest this book to people who just plainly like a well plotted mystery with well developed characters.

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