The Spotted Dog book review: Mystery, murder and baked goods

Kerry Greenwood the spotted dog book review

What is this about?: A kidnapped dog becomes a more complex case than Corinna Chapman expects in this book!

What else is this about?: An exploration of some themes I didn’t expect, most especially PTSD and soldiers coming home after the war.

Blurb

Intrepid baker and erstwhile investigator Corinna Chapman returns triumphantly in her first adventure in seven years

Corinna Chapman, baker extraordinaire, talented sleuth, stalwart friend and lover is back! When a distraught Scottish veteran from Afghanistan is knocked unconscious, waking up to find his beloved ex-service dog missing, Corinna and her lover, Daniel,
find themselves inextricably drawn into the machinations of a notorious underworld gang of drug runners.

Corinna and Daniel need to pull together all the strings to find the connections between their wandering Scottish veteran, his kidnapped dog, a student dramatic society that’s moved into Corinna’s building, burglaries, and the threatening notes that begin to mysteriously appear in Corinna’s apartment. Between her forays into danger, there is still time in Corinna’s life for tender encounters as the delicious aromas of newly baked breads, muffins and treats waft out of Corinna’s bakery, Earthly Delights.

Kerry Greenwood is the author of many bestselling novels including six previous books in the Corinna Chapman series and the wildly popular bestselling Phryne Fisher series.

Stars: 3.5/5

The Spotted Dog is an Australian cozy mystery and I am kicking myself for not knowing about this series earlier — especially as I recommended it over here, and it didn’t click that this was Australian!

Corinna is the owner, and baker, of Earthly Delights, in Melbourne. Hers is a bakery and neighbourhood where everyone knows everyone else. Her assistant baker is Jason, who has a thing for calling her Captain, and her calling him midshipman as if the Earthly Delights’ kitchen were a ship they were steering through dark waters.

She is dating Daniel, an ex Israeli soldier, and he is the one to whom people come to for investigative help – namely Alasdair, a Scottish soldier who has made his home in Australia with his dog, Geordie, who located IEDs in the war in Afghanistan. He was travelling cross-country with him when the dog was abducted leaving Alasdair bereft and needing to find him.

One of the things that threw me was that Alasdair might not have a big presence in the story, but Greenwood makes every word about him count — his experiences in the war, and his love for Geordie are so clearly apparent, that I found myself worrying for him through the book.

The bakery and her baking were a delight to read, and I swear, I felt so hungry reading it! What I would not have given to have been able to walk into Earthly Delights.

From there, we are introduced to some new characters in Insula, the building where Corinna lives, and re-introduced to some existing characters there. This is where I felt a little bit lost because much of the goodness of a cozy comes from the characters, the interplay with them – which is pretty well established by book 7.

In particular, it’s her relationship with Daniel that I am most curious about to know how they came to be because he is very much involved in the case, save for the tender moments with Corinna that just shine with how besotted he is with her.

Aside from the search for Geordie, there are break-ins at her building to deal with, and a cyber attack – I appreciated that the author made all these (separate) events work together in the book, to present a story of life, mysteries and baked goods. 

I enjoyed this very much, and now I have to go find the others in the series to gain a proper introduction to Corinna!

Tomorrow I’ll be posting my interview with Kerry Greenwood about Corinna Chapman. 

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