Dogs Don’t Lie by Clea Simon

Dogs Don't LieReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The first in a new series for author Simon, Dogs Don’t Lie introduces readers to Pru Marlowe, animal behaviorist. Pru is not just the average run of the mill pet behaviorist either because, as fate would have it, after a particularly nasty bout with the flu, Pru found that she could actually hear what animals were thinking. This of course gives her a great edge in treating her patients.

As Dogs Don’t Lie opens, Pru has arrived at a client’s home only to find the client dead, in a pool of blood with his bloody pit bull standing guard. Readers may well jump to the same conclusion that the police did-that is that the dog turned on his owner. Pru not only knows this is out of the dog’s character, but because she can hear the dog think, knows the dog has witnessed the horrible event. The problem is, can she convince anyone else of the dog’s innocence?

I will admit I had a little bit of trouble settling into this book. It took me awhile to figure out that what was pulling me out of the story was my confusion with some of the conversations. That some of the animals have two names-their human given name and what they call themselves led to confusion. Also, the protagonist carries on actual conversations with these double named animals. So, I was to start with, a little confused who she was talking to sometimes.

That said, once I found the rhythm of the story, I found it hard to put the book down until the end. Pru is a fascinating protagonist and the animal therapy techniques she uses are interesting. The book has an extremely well woven plot line with several interesting twists. And while cats, dogs and a ferret figure prominently, this book is not a typical cutsey talking animal book. Life, as seen through the eyes of the animals in this book, is not always a pretty. Dogs Don’t Lie is more in the tone of the Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Joe Grey books than Doctor Doolittle.

As soon as some readers find out that the protagonist can hear the animals think and can communicate with them, they will be put off with the “oh no talking cat syndrome.” If readers are at all put off by animals as characters in a book, then this is not for them. However, fans of Simon’s previous books will love this book as well. Regular readers of the Joe Grey books, Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie books and The Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun should also embrace Dogs Don’t Lie.

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