The Rambling Mann

Book reviews and occasional other thoughts from writer Richard Mann.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Muzzled by Eileen Brady

Kate Turner, D.V.M. Mystery #1
Reviewed by Richard Mann of

AUTHOR: Eileen Brady
PUBLISHER: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 9781464201844  Hardcover
ISBN: 9781464201868  Trade Paperback

Dr. Kate Turner is a veterinarian covering for an older, vacationing veterinarian for a few months.  She’s a friendly, low-key, extremely competent vet who enjoys the animals and cares for them with love and respect.  I haven’t ever known a small-animal vet who did most of his or her work making house calls, but that’s the way Dr. Kate’s business works.  It makes for a much more interesting story as she deals with pets and their owners on their own turf.

There’s a murder mystery here, of course, but much of what made the book satisfying was Dr. Kate’s day-to-day practice of caring for distressed pets and skillfully handling the not-always-reasonable pet owners.  After a heart-warming opening scene with an imperiled hamster, Kate’s second call puts her into a crime scene. She discovers the bodies in an apparent murder-suicide of an elderly couple whose lives centered around their kennel of champion Cavalier King Charles spaniels.  After summoning the police, Dr. Kate helps round up the 27 ultra-valuable dogs that have been running around loose.

As the days go by, Kate learns more and more about the deceased dog breeders, who were not well liked in their community or in the viciously competitive dog show world.  Kate begins to believe they may have been murdered; there is certainly no shortage of suspects with excellent motives.

We meet a womanizing shop and café owner; a fierce-looking burly biker who loves his overweight, almost feral cat; a conniving competitive breeder; and the couple’s estranged daughter, who is so greedily cash-hungry that she sells everything as quickly as possible. Any of them—and a variety of others—could be the killer.

Dr. Kate learns more as she makes her daily rounds of the county’s animal population.  As she asks questions and tries to figure out what might have happened, someone gets nervous and puts the doc in deadly peril.

The eventual resolution is logical and satisfying.  Too often, these mysteries have a scene at the end where the nosy amateur sleuth does something incredibly stupid to put herself in jeopardy.  Not here.  Every plot development is natural and logical.  The story proceeds in a relaxed manner to its inevitable conclusion.  Not everyone likes that kind of story.  I love them.

Dr. Kate is likeable, intelligent, and gently clever with the distressed animals.  Anyone would like her.  She teaches us interesting things about animals—who knew you had to trim the toenails of parrots?  She visits a couple of dog shows, but doesn’t present them as an exposition of obsessed lunatics, as some authors have done.  I also was greatly pleased not to find a lot of people in the story who think their pets are just as important as people.  That said, we meet and grow to understand and love a number of pets.

This is a calm, relaxed, informative, and pleasant mystery with a few moments of tense suspense.  I look forward with pleasure to the next installment in the series.

This review was originally written for


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