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Welcome, friend! Relax & rest awhile, if you please. I'm an ordinary girl, a follower of Christ, mama to Gabriel, & wife to Evan. Here in this little space of the online world, I share all manner of bookish things, including full content reviews, writerly snippets, encouragement for everyday life, and a whole collection of names & their meanings.

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Book Review | Deadly Puzzle

Deadly Puzzle
Katie Maloney

Publisher:  Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Genre:  Mystery, Christian, Fiction, YA
Released:  2014

She looked at me – and I knew. She needed me. I saw past her striking beauty, her royal bearing, I looked into the blue eyes that were deep, that changed with her feelings, encompassed as many shades as the blues of the oceans. People see the beauty, but I see the depth of her soul. Name's Lake, Inspector Lake. I’m an Irish Wolfhound, I stand 37 inches at the shoulder and I can kill a wolf at a dead run. 

The more you know about Audrey Carlisle-Holt, the more you like her, but the less you ever want to have walked in her shoes. Denim jumpers and blood make her queasy, so how my very chic owner went from a homeschooled student to a detective bounty hunter is quite as much a mystery as the one she is solving. 

We’re undercover in Brownsville to trace the killer of a young teenage girl, but the persistent attention of two charming local bachelors reveals in my usually clear-sighted and objective owner a deep yearning for a different life. She must endeavor to silence her dreams and press on as she uncovers connections to more chilling murders. 

The clock is ticking. Her past makes her a match to the victims, and the killer knows it.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

* I was provided a copy of this novel in return for my honest review. *

[The Basics]
OK, I confess.  When I discovered that this book was, more or less, written from the perspective of a dog, I was rather hesitant.  Then I found out the dog himself was an Irish Wolfhound--the dream dog I would one day love to own myself (and name him Fitz)--and I tried to have an open mind.  This is fiction.  It's a story, not really reality, but that's what stories are for!  They open up the imagination for the impossible.  

Oh, it's a mystery as well.  So, 'nuff said.  And I do love a good mystery. :]

So, in this little tale we see the life of one Audrey Carlisle-Holt from the point-of-view of her loyal Wolfhound, Inspector Lake, and his little West Highland Terrier friend, Mr. Puddles.  

Audrey is a Private Investigator and Bounty Hunter, of sorts.  And in her previous years as such, she has experienced much for one lifetime.  This causes her to doubt what she'll do after the current case is resolved.  Life as a PI is rather dangerous and she comes to long for her dream (to one day marry and have a family of her own) that much more.

The relationship between Audrey and her brothers is so intimately sweet.  It's quite obvious they are all each other has and would do anything and everything to protect their little family unit.  

The "banter" between Inspector Lake and Mr. Puddles is kinda cute.  While they don't actually talk aloud, their thought process is easily understood among others of their kind.  We see how much they care for their mistress and the tolerable love they have for each other.  Their "conversations" can be hilarious.  :]

Because Audrey is a drop-dead beauty, men are drawn to her.  And despite her firm "No," they don't seem to know that it means, "No."  

The local church is, and has been for years, struggling to keep together.  In short, it's pretty messed up, and it's leaders have definitely fallen away due to certain circumstances.

At one point, Audrey doubts her decision (made long ago) not to date divorced men.

Audrey's parents are themselves divorcees.  And her relationship with each is barely holding on, if not nonexistent altogether.  We learn she was assaulted by her stepfather years before.  Her own father doesn't even try to keep contact.

When Audrey's secret is revealed, she meets quite a bit of hostility with the town's long-time residents, including a sweet, older woman who owns a kind of coffee shop with her husband.  Audrey stops by for the last time, hoping for a warm cup of coffee and fresh-baked breakfast treat, and is greeted with cold contempt and derision by the woman, who orders her to leave and "GOOD RIDDANCE!"  (The husband tries to sooth Audrey and explains his wife simply needs time to process.  Audrey seems to understand.)

[Spiritual Content]
Mentioned above, the town's church is struggling with many issues.  The men, in particular, have fallen away as the spiritual leaders of their families.  And the women blindly believe most anything, simply because it sounds and feels nice.

This is a mystery thriller and therefore there has to be some kind of crime and/or murder, right?  Well, this one involves a series of murders, and it's Audrey who must discern whether or not they are connected and who is behind it.  The victims are young girls who've been raped and stabbed multiple times.  This makes for some bloody scenes, none of which we "see" in person, simply in photos when reviewing cases.

Lake and his pal, Mr. Puddles, growl at a man and it's quite obvious they dislike him.  A lot.  It's mentioned the little dog's tendency to bite people who's shoes he doesn't like. 

A big dog jumps between a man and woman, because the man got too close to his mistress and he didn't like it.  He growls in warning, scaring two little girls.

A man barges into a home where a Christmas party is taking place.  He disrupts the gala and gets into a little tangle with another man.  A switch-blade is deflected and dropped to the floor.  No one is injured.

A man's duffle bag is mistaken for a bomb.  ([SPOILER] It's not.)

[Language, Alcohol & Drugs]
None that I can recall. . .  Wine is present a time or two.  Men drink beer.  One man admits to being drunk in the past.  A drug ring is mentioned.

[Love-y Content]
One man attempts to pull her close to kiss her, and Lake jumps between them with a fierce warning growl.  Hoo-rah! for the Inspector!  

Audrey is attracted to the chief of police, but refrains from being anything other than a friend.  She has something to do with getting the man back together with his ex-wife.

A divorced man tried to man his former wife jealous by dating other women.  One is rather clingy.  Later, she dumps him.  And good riddance to her.

As you will see below, I've given this book four stars.  I suppose the only reason (or reasons) I've not given it five stars is simply due to the numerous typos and technical mistakes.  That, and the dialogue seemed to have holes.  For example, there were places a statement was possibly left out or missing and should have been there to help explain--I don't know.  At times, I had to go back and re-read a paragraph because I felt I missed something.  Another thing I noticed and found myself annoyed with, was the amount of times they described Audrey as beautiful and/or outrageously gorgeous.  (And no, I'm not jealous in any way. *sticks out tongue*) There was always one man or another who tried to get a date with her--more than once.  I know, I know, 'tis not uncommon.  But the amount of times it occurred was just a bit too much for me (and Audrey, as well, for that matter).

As it is told from a dog's perspective, I found this story different and fun.  I loved Inspector Lake.  His conversations with Mr. Puddles are worth a chuckle or two.  And it was definitely an experience to get to figure out how a mystery is solved when you only see the POV of a dog.

So, all in all, I found this story intriguing, enjoyable, and an easy read.  It took me awhile to figure out who the actual culprit was and even then I would doubt myself.

With all that said, I would definitely recommend to any of you stay-at-home daughters who happen to love a good mystery thriller.  :]

Recommended ages:  16+

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