Play Dead (A Dog and His Girl Mysteries #1)FeaturedHot
When Dodge, a German shepherd police dog, finds himself retired after an accident leaves him deaf in one ear, he's lucky to be adopted by the perfect family. Twelve-year-old Cassie Sullivan, his girl, smells almost as good as a dog, and gets her nose for sleuthing from her police chief mom and coroner dad. Cassie is smart and quick on her feet, and doesn't mind breaking a couple rules to get to the bottom of a mystery. Dodge has forty-two dog years of experience solving crime, as well as a great network of other four-legged colleagues when he needs more intel.
When Verdel Ward, the richest man in town, goes missing, it seems like everyone from the mayor to the housekeeper wants his fortune, which he's left behind with no will. But Cassie and Dodge can smell a mystery from a mile away, and can't help wondering why a miser would go swimming in a dangerous cove, what's up with the suspicious fiancee, who's been sneaking around the mansion, and where a twin brother has come from.
Cassie's mother is the town's chief of police, and Cassie's dog, Dodge, is a former police dog who is very well trained. When the town's richest man, Verdel Ward, disappears, a lot of people have a vested interest in what has happened. The mayor thinks he has left property to the town. A fiance comes to claim her share. The faithful housekeeper is just irritated that people keep trespassing on the estate. Frequent trespassers include Cassie and Dodge, who are trying to solve the mystery. Narrated alternately by the two, we get a dog's eye view of what was going on at the estate, and Cassie gets a lot of valuable clues from Dodge's sleuthing. Will Cassie's prodding get her in trouble with her mother, or will it actually put her in danger?
Both of these elements are hugely popular in my middle school, so it's great to see them together!
This was a great mystery for middle grade students. First of all, the main mystery was one where someone is suspected of being murdered, and that's what students are constantly asking for! The chapters narrated by Dodge included details a dog would notice, but were not annoying. Cassie's relationship with her police chief mother was realistic. A subplot involving a stray dog that Cassie was trying to save at Pet Rescue came into the mystery nicely. I'll be interested to read the others in this series.