SNIFFING OUT MURDER by Kallie E. Benjamin
SERIES: A Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
RELEASE DATE: December 5, 2023
When a murder unleashes a widespread investigation through Crosbyville, children’s book author Pris and her trusty bloodhound, Bailey, must sniff out the truth before the whole town goes to the dogs.
After deciding that life as a teacher wasn’t right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children’s book in her three-year-old bloodhound’s nose for truth, and so The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book’s massively pawsitive response led Pris to move back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana, to continue the series, she’s surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven’t.
Pris is frustrated to discover that newly elected school board trustee Whitney Kelley—a former high school mean girl—is intent on making Crosbyville more competitive by eliminating “frivolous spending” on the arts and social programs, including Pris and Bailey’s beloved pet-assisted reading program. A minor altercation between them isn’t anything unusual, but after Bailey sniffs out Whitney’s body in a bed of begonias, locals start hounding Pris and Bailey as suspects for the crime.
With Bailey’s sharp senses and Pris’s hometown know-how, can they prove to the community that they’re all barking up the wrong tree?
I always love this author’s books, no matter what name she’s writing under, and I especially love how she writes dogs. So I was very excited to dive into this first book in a new series about Bailey the Bloodhound and his human, Priscilla. Bailey is such a fun dog with expressive reactions, a protective spirit when needed, a nose for clues, and a gentle patience with children. The scenes with Chief Morgan’s daughter, Hannah, finally reading with confidence while snuggled up with Bailey are so precious and heartwarming!
Priscilla is very likable as a protagonist, and I enjoyed her personality as well as her new career path as a children’s book author. Her take on teaching these days (what she had been doing) is totally accurate, but I also appreciated that she was still going to be involved in the pet-assisted reading program. I didn’t know there was such a thing but I LOVE IT! Her BFF Marcie and Aunt Agatha are the perfect support network for her, and they had me chuckling out loud more than once. And then there is Chief Gil Morgan (aforementioned father of Hannah) – he’s handsome and muscular and smart and kind…. and his chemistry with Pris is off the charts. I loved the sparks between them, and I look forward to seeing their relationship progress in future books.
The mystery was full of suspects – and a vicitim – that were truly loathsome people, so I almost hate that not all of them were behind it haha! I had my suspicions about the culprit(s) early on but couldn’t put my figure on why … just a gut reaction … and while I was ultimately proven right, I definitely wasn’t confident in my answer until it was actually revealed. The author skillfully weaves clues among the red herrings and a couple of surprising twists, and it’s just a lot of fun hanging out with Pris as she tries to figure out whodunit and why.
Bottom Line: A new cozy mystery (and pseudonym) by one of my fave authors – with a relatable protagonist, a great dog (who has a fantastic personality), and a clever plot? Yes please! The combo of Pris and Bailey is lots of fun, and the supporting cast is equally so. I particularly enjoyed BFF Marcie and Aunt Agatha as well as their relationships with Pris – and of course I loved swoony Gil and his endearing daughter Hannah. The murder victim is a character you’ll love to hate so there’s no shortage of suspects, a fact that keeps Pris and Bailey — and readers — on their toes!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is a same-sex relationship – as tertiary characters – in this story.
Kallie E. Benjamin (Valerie Burns) is the author of the Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery series. The first book, Sniffing Out Murder, released on December 5, 2023. Valerie is an Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. Writing as V. M. Burns she is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery, Dog Club Mystery, and RJ Franklin Mystery series. Writing as Valerie Burns, she is the author of the Baker Street Mystery series. Valerie is also an adjunct professor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie now lives in Northern Georgia with her two poodles. Connect with her at her website.
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