Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dog Gone Ghost by Angie Fox is Dog-Gone Great!

...I grabbed my bowl of strawberries and headed for the woodpile. I’d probably need every last one of them to coax Lucy out this time. I was searching for that tuft of tail when I heard a car crunching down the side driveway. Interesting. I wasn’t expecting anyone. 
Then again, this was Sugarland, where friends and neighbors felt free to drop by anytime. It was one of the things I loved about this place. But I didn’t recognize the gray Honda Civic that pulled up on the opposite side of the ghost car, or at least where I believed it to be. It was interesting how the living instinctively tended to avoid the dead. 
An African American girl with natural hair and cat-eye glasses slid out of the car. I tried to place her and knew I recognized her from town. She smiled at me and slammed the door, showing off thin arms and a honey badger tattoo. 
“Hiya!” she said by way of introduction. “I hope I’m not interrupting. I’m Bree LaMont.” 
Now I remembered her. She was friends with the woman who owned the New For You resale shop downtown. I’d solved a haunting there a while back. I lifted my bowl and then glanced at the woodpile. “I’ve got a little critter I’m trying to catch.” 
Her gaze darted to the logs. “Friendly or feisty?” she asked, growing serious, careful. 

“Both,” I said, smiling. “It’s my pet skunk, Lucy. We were trying out a harness for the first time and she got spooked.” I’d leave out the part about the ghost. Bree crouched in front of the woodpile as if she’d done this before, which was… impossible. She tilted her head. 
“I see little Lucy,” she said, her tone warming. Bree smacked her lips. Once. Twice. It didn’t make any sense. I saw the flash of a tail. That’s it, love,” she murmured, graduating to a harsh purr that sounded like part skunk, part cat. Lucy’s nose poked out from under a log. Bree purred deeper, and Lucy wriggled out from under the woodpile. A grin tickled the side of Bree’s lips as my little skunk toddled straight into her arms. “That’s it,” she said, embracing her, “Good girl.” 
“How did you do that?” I asked, crouching next to her to pet my skunk. Bree stroked Lucy’s silky fur, stopping to flick out the occasional piece of tree bark. 
“I called her like her mamma would. It helps that Lucy’s the adventurous sort.” She stroked the soft spot behind her ear. “You’re a curious one, aren’t you?” 
“And you’re the skunk whisperer,” I told her, amazed to see them both perfectly content. Believe it or not, some folks in town had issue with Lucy being a skunk. They labeled her as a menace before they even bothered to get to know her. 
“I work for the Sugarland Animal Sanctuary,” Bree said, standing, with Lucy in her arms. “But in college, I volunteered with the Smoky Mountains Wildlife Rescue Center in Gatlinburg. We saw a fair number of Lucy’s country cousins.”
“Let’s sit up on the porch,” I suggested. Lucy was going to get heavy in a second and Bree showed no sign of putting her down. “I don’t have any sweet tea brewed.” In fact, I didn’t have any tea or sugar in the house. I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment. Southern hospitality called for me to have something to offer my guest, but the money for extras this month had gone toward securing Lucy a bit of exercise. “I can get you a big glass of iced water.”
“I’m fine, thanks,” she said, joining me on the porch. She winced a bit and seemed to hesitate for a moment. “What I really need is a favor.” 
“All right,” I said, sitting on the swing with her. I’d do my best. She drew Lucy a bit closer to her chest and the skunk snuggled in tight. “We have a dangerous situation at the animal sanctuary. A ghost. Word around town is that you handle that sort of thing.” 
“I do. In fact, I just started a new ghost-hunting business,” I told her. Even before I’d gone pro, Frankie and I had done a lot of good. We’d caught more than one killer, we’d reunited a World War Two soldier with his sweetheart, and we’d even solved a decades-old mystery at a haunted mansion. 
“My boss forbade me to call you,” she admitted, her fingers twining in Lucy’s fur. “We don’t have the money for this sort of thing and he doesn’t even believe in ghosts. But I saw something last night that needs fixing, no matter what he thinks.” 
“You can tell me,” I assured her. 
Lucy curled her soft tail around Bree’s arm and the woman stroked it. “We’ve had trouble this past week with animals getting out of their cages at night. Dogs, mostly. But sometimes cats and rabbits. We had a guinea pig go loose last night and that’s dangerous. The animals could hurt themselves or each other. My boss thinks it’s the cages or that we’re not locking them tight enough, but it’s not. Someone or something is letting the animals out.” 
I believed her. Bree didn’t seem like the type to forget to lock the cages. “What did you see last night?” I pressed. She drew tight and then blew out a breath. 
“I brought a sleeping bag to work last night and I stayed. I’ve done it before for sick animals or for an animal that’s having trouble adjusting.” She seemed unsure and I nodded for her to continue. “We have a separate area for the dogs. I set up in the hallway outside the dog kennels. I kept the lights on and even managed to get a few hours’ sleep. But at about three in the morning, the kennels started opening by themselves. It was as if someone was unlatching them, but I didn’t see anybody.” 
“It’s okay,” I said, placing a hand over her trembling one. “I believe you.” Her eyes had gone glassy. “You’re probably the only one who would. It was freaky. And it’s bad for our animals and I don’t know what to do...”

Dog Gone Ghost:
Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Novella

By Angie Fox

If you are reading the series...or if not...this is a delightful, heartwarming story about a boy and his dog...Ok, the boy happens to be a ghost - of a missing child Verity had learned about...

But still when the cages at a local animal sanctuary began to be opened at night, Verity had not yet put the two issues together...Since the book description tells the basic storyline, I'm not giving anything away, except the wonderful vibes you'll be feeling as you read...

First we meet a skunk whisperer who can handle Lucy better than Verity! But she didn't get jealous, because she'd also found the perfect person to help train the walk on a leash...which, of course, is not really in a skunk's nature. Of that, I'm just guessing since I only know that I have skunks when I accidentally discern that certain smell...😉 Since there are raccoons, 'possum and cats around my cabin, I guess a skunk could get entangled with a potential enemy once in a while, but I've never really heard animals fighting when that smell is around...guess the other animals have the right reaction! Run!

Bree LaMont works at the animal shelter and knew it had to be a ghost--she'd stayed one night and actually saw the cages being opened and could see nobody doing it... Her main fear was that the animals could get hurt, or even hurt each other. 

And so Verity and Bree went to the Sanctuary to begin the investigation: (Now I just had to share this excerpt--you'll guess why!)
“We’re pressed for space,” Bree said. “Our vet recommended this setup. It was never a problem until…” Until someone began opening the cages. “Show me where you were when it happened,” I told her. She nodded and opened a door at the back. We stepped outside for a moment, under a covered walkway. My eyes had barely adjusted to the dark when we entered the cement-block building I’d seen earlier. We were greeted by a cacophony of dog barks and Lucy startled. “It’s okay,” I said, stroking her. “They’re just saying hello.” We stood at the beginning of a long hallway with fenced-in play yards to the right, eight in all. Most had dog noses pressed against them. I reached through the nearest one and stroked the wet quivering
nose of the small gray mutt who leapt for joy in between pets. She wriggled under my hand, licking me as I tried to stroke her head, her shoulders, whatever I could reach. “That’s Glenda,” Bree said. “I was sleeping here,” she added, standing halfway down the hallway, “when Glenda’s cage just opened.” “Was she scared?” I asked, taking a break from the Glenda love-fest to check the latch. It appeared sturdy. “Glenda was overjoyed,” Bree said, “as were Marvin and Shep— both bassets— and Boomer. We’re not sure what he is.” Her voice caught. “Then I heard a crash in the small-animal room. I rushed in to find Ninja the guinea pig running from Stripe the cat and then Glenda followed me and brought in the hounds.” “Calm down.” She sounded overwhelmed again. “We’ll fix it.”
Wellll, I'd never met a dog named Glenda...and I do hereby swear I've never even read Angie Fox's books before this series... But, really, it's nice to come across your name used for a character in a book, even if I'd prefer to have had a cat named after me!😍

I loved this story... It's a short sweet ghost tale that certainly highlights how the love between animals and their humans can become so important to children... It's, well, Dog-Gone Great! And highly recommended!


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