This book lets me give my love of dogs free rein.  The dog at the center of this plot, Mickey, is very much like one of my dogs. No surprise that the dog barking on the front cover is my own dog! It was easy to get him to bark. I’m also interested in dog training methods and have a large website about that, at training-dogs.com.

This story is probably the most typical cozy mystery that I have written. Let me give you a couple of bits. By the fifth chapter, a man who lives across the street from Lauren is dead and her dog has been barking a lot.

Good thing that Sam was meeting her at the park soon, for a training session with Mickey. They would walk around, keeping Mickey on a loose leash as much as possible. They had done this once before, but Lauren wondered how Mickey would behave since he’d been so upset yesterday. That was only yesterday? So much had changed.

She took a leash off the hook by the front door, and Mickey jumped up, wagging his tail. She glanced up and down the street before opening the front door, but the only person she saw outside was Ryan, walking his Akita. They were a couple of blocks away, on the other side of the street, but Mickey was friendly with the dog and wouldn’t bark at her. Ryan was one of the people she often saw out walking in the neighborhood. She knew him because he worked for the company that kept the library’s computers running. He was in his late 20s and he and his girlfriend Malinda had a couple of kids. He was friendly enough, in a geeky sort of way.

She walked towards the park with Mickey, hurrying a bit to avoid Ryan. He could be very talkative.

The session with Sam went well. How could it be that Mickey was so perfectly behaved with her? They walked around the park, on and off the paths, first Sam demonstrating and then Lauren trying to do the same thing. The goal of the lesson was for Mickey to learn to walk on a loose leash.

“It’s really quite subtle,” Sam explained. “Not with all dogs, but Mickey is extremely tuned in to what you are doing all the time. That’s both from his Sheltie and his Papillion ancestry, probably more from the Papillion, I’d guess, because Shelties as herding dogs tend to be independent thinkers. But for whatever reason, breed or just pure personality, Mickey focuses intently on you, even when you aren’t aware of it.”

Lauren looked fondly at the little dog, busily trotting along the path. “He doesn’t seem to be paying all that much attention to me now,” she said.

“Oh, but he is. Let your attention go into the leash now. Notice what happens when he gets to the end of the leash and starts pulling a bit. He’s communicating with you in that moment. If you tug very lightly, that’s a way that you can tell him that you don’t want him to pull so much. Let’s work with that for a few minutes here, and you’ll see how quickly he gets it. I’ve noticed before how fast he learns.”

In chapter 20, Lauren has an encounter with a famous if fictional detective:

She tried praying, and gradually she became less wrought up. As she approached a state of sleep, Hercule Poirot popped into her mind. She didn’t exactly see him, but she felt that he had a word of advice for her. “Librarian, be very careful,” he said. “A dead librarian is completely useless.”

That jolted her awake, and it was hours before she slept.

It gets a bit more complex after that. And you could say, more like a regular cozy mystery!