Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Murder Mystery Solved by Pets

Arthur, an enthusiastic but somewhat misguided mixed breed dog, and Queenie, a particular and discerning cat, both live with their humans at the Blackberry Hill Inn, which is near some mountains (in Maine?). Harmony and Bro are the children who play hockey, and Mom runs the bed and breakfast. When a gues, Mr. LeMaire wants to hike the Sokoki Trail, he wants to hire the children's cousin Matty for twice the going rate, but he is busy. Instead, he hires the children, and insists that they return after they get him to the trailhead. When he doesn't return, their mother is concerned until she gets a text that he was called away on business, and that someone will call to pick up his luggage. This seems somewhat suspicious, and when Harmony has a bad day at hockey with a teammate, she takes Arthur on a hike... and discovers LeMaire's body in a cave. Matty is in the area cleaning brush, and the two called sheriff Hunziger and his deputy Carstairs. Hunziger is an idiot, and before long is accusing Matty of the murder. Matty runs off and Arthur takes a bit at Hunziger, prompting his removal by the local animal authorities for a while. There are some odd documents in LeMaire's room, and the woman who picks up his things acts oddly, so Harmony starts investigating. Hunziger is sure that the murder was motivated by a hunt for artifacts, but the evidence suggests more of a connection with moonshine running at the time of Prohibition, and secrets about local families start to surface.

Good Points
This is a murder mystery, and my students are ALWAYS asking for murder mysteries. It's a tricky thing, murder for middle schoolers. Your need to have someone they know, but not someone close to them. The murder can't be too gruesome, and the culprit must be found and their motives explained. Quinn does a good job at all of those requirements.

The connection to rum running and Prohibition was fascinating. I also enjoyed Harmony's passion for hockey, and the fact that a teammate who gave her grief was reprimanded by his father and made to apologize was great. Readers who like books from animals' perspective will enjoy Queenie and Arthur's take on things, as well as their love for sausage. The Bowser and Birdie books do well in my library.

I wasn't a fan of Sheriff Hunziger, Bro, and Arthur all be depicted as not very bright. One character, maybe, but this made me suspect something bad in the water. Hunziger is just evil, but Bro sounds like he might need some intervention.
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