This book was a fabulous multi-layered story packed with all kinds of elements, with the murder mystery being simply one of the themes (and not necessarily one of the major ones). The characters were either loveable or hateable and not always who you think they are. The writing was great and the narrator's enthusiasm was infectious. Would I read more by this author? Yes I would, but at a later time. Would I recommend this book to others? Yes.
It's suddenly heating up, and that is going to catch some people by surprise. If you take your dog along for the ride, it's time to leave him at home where he can stay cool and safe. Sacramento just seems to get less and less dog friendly, so that means you can't pass off your Chihuahua as a service dog when you go into a store and take him in with you. I'd personally rather see a dog in a store than see one cooking in a car, but I don't make the stupid rules. Why can't our city be more laid-back, like Carmel, where dogs are welcome everywhere, on the beach, even in restaurants? I think the same California laws exist in Carmel as in Sactown, so why are we enforcing them so strictly here and they aren't? The dogs aren't going to be in the kitchen where the food is prepared, just sitting quietly beside their owners at a table. Of course, common sense must rule, and dogs must be well behaved, house trained, and not reactive to other dogs. And therein lies the problem, because a lot of pet owners don't exhibit good judgment when they take their pets to public places. Unless the dog is actually sitting on a chair at the dining table (like they do in Paris), there won't be any danger of dog hair in the meal. Until long-haired servers and food preparers start wearing hairnets, as law also dictates, then there is no room to fuss about dogs in restaurants. I'd much rather find a dog hair in my food any day than someone's long stringy hair, and the only short and curly I ever want to discover on my plate would have to come from a French poodle. Just be sure you don't leave your dog waiting in the car for you on these warm days while you shop. Many people still think the outside temperature has to be above 100 degrees for it to be unsafe to leave a dog unattended inside a car. Dogs can perish in a car on 80-degree days as easily as 100+, even if the windows are cracked. You get distracted with your errands at the mall and come back to find a dead or dying dog. It happens every summer, and summers come faster than they used to. No one ever wants that tragedy to happen to their best friend. If you really love your dog, the safest place to leave him is at home. He'll be waiting for you there, ALIVE, when you return.
I'm pleased to report that Braced for Murder has received its tenth five-star review on Amazon and is staying pretty consistently among their Top 100 best sellers in the Cozy Animal Mystery category. I'm currently at Lake Tahoe soaking up the local color for my fifth and subsequent books. I'm making great headway on #5, despite frequent dog walks. How I wish I could live here with my dogs all the time. No place sparks my creative juices like Tahoe, or Da Ow, as the Washo Indians call it, truly the most beautiful place on Earth.
It's hard to believe it's been two years since I've been at Lake Tahoe, the source of my joy and inspiration, besides my dogs, that is. I'm working on my next book and the words and ideas are flowing like the snow melting on Mount Tallac in this glorious alpine sunshine. I'm so happy to be here again, as are Peaches and Beau, but Beau is not as able to walk the mountain trails as he was last time we were here. He has some weakness in his hindquarters due to arthritis (hoping it's not his spine--he is the longest dog we've had), so we have to take it easy for his sake, and mine. We bit off a bit too much the first day we tried to go down to Tallac Historic Site, our favorite place, because Kiva Beach is an off-leash area, one of Tahoe's few, other than on forest trails. The area wasn't open yet for tourists, so I couldn't drive in close to the lake's edge. We had to walk quite a distance to get to the beach. It wasn't easy, but we made it there and back. Beau wasn't the only one struggling. My knees aren't what they were two years ago when I injured them dancing, though I can at least walk on the easier trails now, which I could not have dreamed of doing before the Euflexxa shots I got in them about a year ago. I never thought my knees would give out on me, but after all the aerobics and dancing I've done over the years, what did I expect? I see long-distance runners, some wearing knee braces, and think, "Well, there goes another knee replacement surgery." I met a lady at Tallac who'd had both her knees replaced. She wasn't happy with the outcome and said she wouldn't have done it had she known. I was getting around better than she was. She's not the first person I've heard say that, not only about knees but hips, too. An elderly neighbor of mine still has one of the recalled brands of hip replacement hardware in her. Margaret has limped ever since her surgery years ago. I expect she's in pain, but being British she stays calm and carries on. Doctors are only too happy to get those fake knees or hips implanted in u$ at the first opportunity, but humans can't really duplicate what is natural, and that includes the complicated joints in our bodies. I'll keep the originals I was issued at birth if at all possible. The reward for our effort at Tallac was that the beach was entirely deserted. Not a soul was in sight. No motorboats were thrumming on the lake to disturb the peace. The view was so incredible! I could imagine this was exactly how Tahoe looked when only the Native Washo were here, before white men ruined it forever. I sat down on a log with the dogs beside me, closed my eyes and just listened. All was silent, except for nature's music of waves lapping on the shore, quacking mallards, a jay bird's call, and the tapping of a woodpecker in the forest. I wish I could find someplace to live that is as beautiful and restful as this. I hope it won't be so long before we can come back here again. The dogs are both getting old, though, so it will have to be soon. But like a dog, I am just going to live in the moment and not worry about what lies ahead of us. There's no yesterday, no tomorrow, only today. We're together now, and that's all that matters.
Here's my latest Pets & Their People column. I hope you enjoy it. My sincere apologies to anyone who was planning to attend the book signing at Dog Dog Cat, a popular pet store in South Lake Tahoe, where my Beanie and Cruiser mysteries are set. Due to some misunderstanding with the store owner, the dates for the event somehow got mixed up, so I'm sorry to say I won't be appearing there tomorrow as planned. I even got a very nice write-up in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. My thanks to them. I'd been longing to do an event at my and my dogs' favorite Tahoe pet store since 2001, when my first mystery, Howling Bloody Murder, was released, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I hope you'll still check out Braced for Murder and other books in the Beanie and Cruiser Tahoe mysteries online, now also available in Kindle. Sorry to have missed you, but I hope to see you at some other Tahoe venue in the future.
It's heating up fast, folks, so remember: DON'T PARK THE DOG WHEN YOU PARK THE CAR. Sacramento still has a long way to go before being as dog friendly as Carmel by the Sea, where dogs are allowed anywhere! People dress their Chihuahuas in tiny orange vests to pass them off as service dogs, but they've been outed by store owners and their disabled patrons, so the dogs either have to cook in cars or be left at home where they belong in hot weather. Sacramento businesses would rather see a dead dog than an fake service dog? I'm disabled, too, but this seems pretty heartless to me. I just don't see what the big fuss is about if a dog is well behaved and not creating a problem for anyone, like running wild, making noise and annoying patrons (like most kids I see). As for dogs and health laws, I've seen far worse offenses in restaurants, and some are committed by the people who work there! When was the last time you saw a long-haired female server wearing a hairnet? Seeing all that hair being flipped around when they are serving food is a pet peeve of mine. You know where it's going to end up. Just check out Jack's Urban Eats sometime. I hope we can get to a point where people lighten up about dogs in public places. Most are better behaved than people. Until then, please keep your pets safe on these warm days by leaving them at home. It doesn't take long for a car interior to reach lethal temperature for a dog. They pant but can't sweat, so they quickly overheat.
Braced for Murder gets a five-star review from Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine. Here's my favorite part of the review: "Dog lovers, animal lovers will enjoy Cruiser and now his new friend, Calamity, as they work with Beanie. Sue Owens Wright writes in such a way that I feel like I am right there with Beanie and Cruiser (and Calamity). I can smell doggie breath see their tails wag. I am right there with them as they interact and solve crimes. Such Fun!" --Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy. D. MHt