How in the world did this author know how to package my most favorite things – adorable little costume-clad dogs, ghosts and travel writing – into an off-the-wall who dunnit? It’s almost eerie how this book seems to be tailor-made just for little ol’ me! With a title like this, how could I go wrong?
Fortunately the book met my expectations – and then some! Although Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson don’t make an appearance, there’s a Scooby Doo-like team of travel-writing ghost hunters on the case. Struggling to keep Tripping Magazine afloat, the trio of freelancers take on a rather unusual case involving the ghost of a dearly departed Chihuahua who’s haunting his mistress, Charlotte Baskerville.
Set in the charming town of Manitou Springs – home of the famous coffin races – the mystery unfolds when Charlotte encounters the ghost of her long-dead pup wandering her home’s grounds at night. The owner and operator of a successful doggie clothing boutique, Charlotte is surrounded by family and friends, or shall I say frenemies, who don’t all seem to have her best interests at heart.
One particularly despicable character is Thomas, Charlotte’s curmudgeon husband who insists that she’s going senile. Ashamed by his inability to keep the family business afloat, Thomas is threatened by his wife’s success and even has the nerve to mock her adorable doggie outfits. What a creep! Although he claims to be concerned about her mental competence, it seems as though he’s more interested in her money than her wellbeing.
When Petey’s luminescent apparition (which appears to be doused in glow-in-the-dark makeup) begins to bark cryptic messages sounding suspiciously like “divorce Thomas,” the trio of travel writers begin to wonder if someone in the Baskerville houehold is toying with Charlotte to get their paws on her fortune. And when Charlotte doesn’t heed the warnings, Thomas ends up dead.
Are supernatural forces at work? Or is this a case of old-fashioned murder? Let’s take a look at our suspects and their celebrity look-alikes.
Charlotte: Could this all be a facade to promote her fashion line? Perhaps this sweet little old lady is responsible for her husband’s death. Who could blame her?
Ivan: A fame-hungry dog trainer who works with Charlotte and her four-legged fashion models. Obsessed with becoming the next Cesar Milan, this Russian brute will stop at nothing to get his own TV show.
Ellen: Charlotte’s best friend and colleague. Although she’s grateful Charlotte took her in during a rough patch, Ellen wants to be a business partner, not a hired hand. As the lead designer and manufacturer of Petey’s Closet, she deserves a lot more than a meager salary and she’s about to reach a breaking point. Is she angry enough to scare Charlotte to death? And why is her sink spotted with glow-in-the-dark paint?
Bob: Charlotte’s nosey neighbor who’s obsessed with acai berries. A fledgling entrepreneur, he’s constantly pestering Charlotte to help him peddle his “cancer-fighting” dog food line “Petey’s Pride.”
Cheri: Charlotte’s alcoholic granddaughter who seems to be falling off the wagon. After another stint in rehab, the dark-haired beauty is recovering, or shall I say mooching, at Charlotte’s grand estate. Although she seems sweet and interested in helping her grandmother market her goods, something isn’t quite right. Is she trying to get her life back in order, or is she transporting evidence in those mysterious boxes when she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night?
Lila and Chum: Charlotte’s two beloved Chihuahuas. Yes these pups are cute and cuddly. But are they using their charming good looks to get under Charlotte’s skin? Ha ha – just kidding! Dogs could never be capable of murder….cats, however, are another story.
It all comes to a head at the Emma Caufield Coffin Race, which is a real thing in Manitou Springs. Apparently a young girl named Emma Caufield died of turburculosis back in the early 1900s. Her coffin, which was buried on the slope of a mountain, became unearthed during a storm and slid downstream into town. Legend has it she was later buried in an unmarked grave and her ghost haunts the slopes of Red Mountain. Some say she won’t rest until her body is returned to the gravesite she chose for herself. So to commemorate her spirit, the townsfolk of Manitou Springs put on a big coffin race every year with costumes and tricked out caskets – how cool is that! Man, and I thought Austin was weird.
If you, like me, love adorable little dogs, ghosts, eccentric characters, and punchy one-liners, check this one out. It’s a lot of fun and a great book to curl up with on a cold winter’s night. I’m excited to see what happens when the travel writers investigate their next case involving two sisters and a haunted painting. Do I smell a series? I hope so!