Monday, April 13, 2015

Bite the Biscuit (A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery #1)

WAuthor:  Linda A. Johnston
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars

Veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly has become known for offering healthy dog treats at the clinic where she works. So when the owner of the local bakery moves away, Carrie jumps at the chance to buy the business and convert half of it into the Barkery, a shop where she can make and sell her canine delights.

But Myra Ethman, co-owner of another pet product store, hates the new competition. At the Barkery’s opening party, she badmouths Carrie’s homemade dog biscuits, insisting she’ll find a way to shut the place down. When Myra is found dead with a Barkery biscuit beside her, Carrie must prove she didn’t do it before she’s collared for murder.

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Carrie Kennersly, a veterinary technician, bought her friend Brenda's bakery, Icing on the Cake, and decided to "halve it," by keeping one half the bakery, and using the other half (separated) as the "Barkery," a bakery for dogs.  This way she can also proceed with her real love, baking healthy treats for dogs.  On the day of the grand re-opening, she is confronted by Myra Ethman, who manages the town's resort and owns the Pet Emporium.  Myra has shown up merely to make Carrie's life miserable.  She wastes no time making big noises, telling anyone who will listen that the products are inferior and they'd be fools to buy anything; doing her best to ruin the business before it even gets started.  For the most part, Carrie manages to maintain her composure, but after Myra finally leaves, she's had enough, and makes a statement to the effect that she will do anything to keep Myra from shutting her down.

So when Myra is murdered that evening, she is found with a broken dog biscuit next to her body - one stamped with the Barkery logo, and the police are convinced Carrie killed her.  Carrie knows she didn't kill Myra, and that someone placed the biscuit there to convict her.  But who?  There were so many people in and out of the Barkery the day before, it seems impossible to decide who did it.  But that isn't going to stop our intrepid amateur investigator...

So Carrie goes about trying to figure out who the real killer is without being too obvious about it, even dragging one of her employers - Dr. Reed Storme - with her to the resort for dinner in order to question people.    Yet for all her questions and suspicions that one of Myra's family members might have done the deed, she never really gets close to the guilty party and has a lot of false starts before she figures it out.  I'm not crazy about Dr. Storme, though, even though Carrie likes him.

The thing that bothered me about this book was the cops.  The two investigating officers don't appear to be very nice people, and are probably either the densest or laziest cops I've ever read about.  She has an argument the night before, in front of tons of witnesses, and she automatically becomes not the most likely, but the only suspect.  Yes, that makes her a suspect.  But the more we learn about this woman, the more we find out people didn't even like her (no spoiler, you figure that out almost immediately.)  No one else was even considered, even though the cops say others were eliminated.  I would think the cops would know that the dog biscuit would be too convenient, and figured out immediately she was being set up and proceeded to try and find out why and who would want to do that.  They don't even suspect she was being set up.  The argument she had and the dog biscuit are enough to convict her; they just need the confession.

A good enough start to a new series, and well worth the read.  Recommended.


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