Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ears for Murder: A Beanie and Cruiser Mystery!

...I aimed for home base. I'd intended to stop by Pandora's Box to collect Cruiser's portrait, but the shop was probably closed for the day. Besides, both the dogs and I were exhausted from our Bear Country adventures at Taylor Creed. It was after feeding time at the zoo. First things first, I'd go tomorrow to pick up Cruiser's portrait. I hoped I'd be getting my money's worth.
As I approached my front doorstep, I noticed someone had left a package there. I wasn't expecting any deliveries, but a note was attached. It was from Pandora.
I hope you are pleased with the portrait I've done of Cruiser. Pay me whenever it's convenient. I look forward to seeing you again. Now I felt bad because I hadn't invited her over to deliver the painiing. What must she think of me? Did she think I was trying to avoid paying her for her work? I would see she got paid. As a writer, I understood how creative people are seldom respected or paid what they are really worth and how that makes them feel. Is it any wonder that so many artists and writers throughout history have suffered from depression or even committed suicide? I hadn't seen any indication thus far that this was the case with Pandora...
I collected the package as we went inside. I was eager to see the completed painting of Cruiser, but he and Calamity were intent on food and bolted for the kitchen. I'd have to fill their bowls with their dinner rations before I could start unwrapping any packages. The only packages those two were interested in contained their favorite brand of kibble from the Haute Hydrant. I set down their bowls and Calamity attacked hers with gusto, managing to spill more food than she ate. If left them to finish their meals while I opened the parcel from Pandora...
There is nothing more exciting to me than receiving a package. Like Maria sings in The Sound of Music, "brown paper packages tied up with strings" are a few of my favorite things. I carefully unwrapped the painting, which was nicely matted and framed. We hadn't discussed whether a mat and frame were included in the price she quoted, but I was relieved that she had done the framing for me. I wasn't skilled at that, and I knew having it done at a shop would have been a further expense I wouldn't really afford.
Sorry only a photo!
The final product was everything I had hoped it would be. Pandora had not only accurately portrayed Cruiser's likeness right down to every hair and whisker, she had captured his soul in pastel on the finely sanded paper. Seeing this masterpiece, I regretted I hadn't commissioned a painting of him when he was younger, but I was thrilled to have this one of him. I've always found that a painting of a senior dog conveys a radiance which is hard to put into words, even for someone who writes about dogs. The light in those eyes that seems to reflect the loving heart of a special companion is the reason why we love dogs as deeply as we do for the comparatively short time allotted...

Ears for Murder:
A Beanie and Cruiser Mystery

By Sue Owens Wright

The Secret of Bramble Hill was my first book by Sue Wright - it turned out to be a personal favorite earlier this year... Do check it out! This time, however, I got the chance to meet Beanie and Cruiser, the latest in her cozy mystery series. I did not, however, expect that Beanie would be living in a cabin in the woods, like me, spending her day as a free lance writer, especially for the local newspaper. Guised as a reporter, for the Tahoe Tattler, she has also begun to be an amateur detective and somehow seems to be around when a body is found...

I quickly discovered that I had made a
mistake in allowing Calamity off her
leash for our morning walk. Before I
could say Fleabiscuit, she scurried off,
creating a cyclone of dust in her wake.
...When the dust settled, I discovered
something else besides my two hound
dogs marking a surviving tree. They
had led me straight to a man's
bloody corpse.
This one was a rather gruesome find and actually was found by the two dogs who had been off their leash and away from Beanie, once they'd smelled the body. Actually it had been Calamity, her daughter's dog who she was dog-sitting while she was out of town... Beanie had not realized, however, that Calamity would be as much trouble as she was! The man was somebody Beanie had seen...he had been driving a large masticator who had been eating all the beautiful trees around her home...Now he was seated at the foot of one of those trees with his arms chained around the trunk... an arrow through his neck...with his ear gone... Perhaps as a trophy... The thing was that many were upset about the trees being mowed down, especially the way they were doing it...Beanie knew her grandfather would be angry with what they were doing to the land... and her love of the area had grown deep and strong because of him...
Beanie was part Washoe and remembered much from what she had been taught in her early life by her ancestors. Now with an arrow being used to kill the man tearing up the forest, she was especially concerned they could be blamed... But there was also another group there that had similar concerns, but were part of a secret society that had been out in the forest one night. She had seen their lights and had tried to find them...

Learning about Lake Tahoe and its Indian past gave an interesting plot to a location that is well known by many. Now those with money and land wanted to build a major resort complex that would only detract from the natural beauty known to those who lived there all the time. That includes two men in Beanie's life, both of whom lend a personal insight for those, like me, who have not read previous books in the series.

The key thing for me was the ongoing storyline of Beanie, Elsie MacBean, who is an author living near Lake Tahoe. We meet her and her two dogs staying with her, as well as a number of town characters that add greatly to the setting... Readers of cozies have by now, added a cup of tea and a few crackers to sit back and enjoy the life there on the lakeside...

But just as you have begun to wonder--where are the clues to use in solving the mystery--everything starts happening and the speed of the novel moves faster...First there is the bear, then another meeting of that secret group...and, oh yes, Beanie hopes that her new suitor is going to stick around, especially after he helps save her! The climatic ending is almost a whirlwind blowing after the pace had lulled us into enjoying the coziness of it all...

Wright zaps with a bow and arrow, literally, in the midst of a forest fire that threatens homes and land throughout the area. But nothing prepared me for this killer, an amazing villain that totally fits the story, yet... Wright's creative imagination went into overdrive in finishing this book. With a tinge of psychological suspense, she weaves a tale that was totally unexpected! Verrrry Cool and highly recommended!


Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books. 

Her newest free-standing novel is "The Secret of Bramble Hill" (Black Opal Books, 2016). Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables.

Sue graduated from California State University Sacramento and taught elementary school, college English and adult writing courses. She did MFA studies in fiction writing at the Universities of Dublin and Galway in Ireland and University College London in England. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, DWAA, Sisters in Crime, PEO International, Sierra Pastel Society, SSPCA, and Daughters of the American Revolution. For more information about the author, visit www.sueowenswright.com.

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