This fun, fast-paced mystery adds a fantastic twist to adult detective fiction as furry protagonists in an alternative New York City seek justice in life and the afterlife.
In the sweltering summer of 1954 in Greenwich Village, Morton Digby, junior detective and border collie mix, breaks in his new partner, Scottish terrier J.B. Puddleworth, with the case of Flint Lockwood, an investigative journalist and Irish wolfhound murdered by a falling piano. A calling card in the instrument signals the work of an assassin known only as the Queen of Spades – species initially unidentified – and sets the detectives on a trail of corruption and coverup reaching the top of their precinct.
Meanwhile, Flint finds guidance through the ghost realm from a kindly Old English sheepdog who introduces him to an unearthly world of gang warfare and hauntings, where apparitions waft around by catching drafts with umbrellas, inhale beer-flavored air and find sun and rock salt fatal. Flint’s bereft fiancée, an elegant Angora cat named Bianca Moon, sets out to find his murderer no matter how many lives it will cost her.
The premise has a certain appeal as it imagines a police station full of rowdy and competitive canines and alley cats who know the streets, and offers a clear metaphor in the romantic pairing of cats and dogs. The whimsical rules of the ghost realm provide entertainment if the reader doesn’t demand logic to the world-building.
The story races along, relying on broad character types and predictable twists to keep the action moving. The tone steers more toward cozy than hardboiled, despite Flint’s distress over Bianca’s increasingly costly vigilante style. The prose, for the most part, is up to the task of keeping the pages turning, but the dialogue is uniformly on the nose.
Despite the predictability, author Delas Heras provides an entertaining take on detective fiction with a dollop of justice on top.