The sixth book in the popular Roger and Suzanne mystery series finds Roger and Bruce hired to go undercover impersonating the owner and handler of a Champion German Shorthaired Pointer named Juliet to investigate certain irregularities that might be occurring at dog shows in California. To complicate this case the bodies of dead judges start popping up and Suzanne picks up a mysterious stalker sending her most unwelcome gifts. Throw in drug cartels and corrupt cops and it sounds like a typical job for our detective couple.
The Deadly Dog Show can be read as a stand-alone novel.
BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE DEADLY DOG SHOW
The Deadly Dog Show has excellent reviews, especially from individuals who identified themselves as having dog show experience on either side of the leash (showing or judging). It’s my all-time second-best selling book thus far, appealing to both dog lovers and mystery fans. The canine heroine of the novel, Juliet, is very much modeled after our own dog, Jolie. This post explores the real-life origins of a few specific scenes in the novel to give you some sense of my writing process from conceptualization to finished story.
One of the reviewers singled out a scene that takes place in a kosher delicatessen in New York City for comment, based on their reminiscences of similar meals they themselves had enjoyed when they lived in The Big Apple many years ago. The original version of the scene as it was written in the first draft changed dramatically after implementing several key editing changes my wife Elaine suggested. Elaine and I both did part (me) or all (Elaine) of our growing up in the New York City area—me in midtown Manhattan and she in the suburbs. We both drew upon our childhood and young adult memories to picture this scene as Roger and Suzanne might have experienced it.
The various dog show venues described in the novel are authentic. We live almost exactly at the epicenter of the Northern California dog show circuit described in the novel. Woodland’s Yolo County fairgrounds are less than 10 miles from our house. Stockton, Vallejo, and Sacramento are less than an hour’s drive away, while The Cow Palace and Fresno are a 1.5-hour drive from our home. Elaine has shown her dogs in these local shows for more than 30 years, so knows the venues intimately. She’s dragged me to as many of the shows as she could, so I’ve been to all the places described in the book at least once and actually handled a show dog in Sacramento. Elaine shared details for each venue as the book evolved and we decided exactly where to find a body or to interview a suspect.
Bruce’s training techniques described in the story are also authentic. We use the methods we learned from modern show and field trainers who work with positive rewards, mainly praise and food, as opposed to the old time approaches that stress discipline and physical punishment like ear pinches for errors. The positive rewards work well. We currently have three well-trained senior hunters, two of whom should complete their master hunter certifications in the near future. Training by positive rewards also makes the entire experience a lot more fun both for dog and trainer.
Another key scene in the novel has Juliet finding a critical clue with her keen bird dog nose. I did a short course on nose work with Vinia, much like Bruce’s training of Juliet in the book, a few years ago. Finding a concealed object by just its scent is easy and instinctual for a GSP, so she excelled at it—-if she could figure out the scent you wanted her to find, she found it. Juliet’s nose work as a detective in the novel is well within the skill set of any well-trained pointer with a good nose. Schöene, Jolie’s granddaughter, has an even better nose than Vinia. It would be a lot of fun to train her for search and rescue work or as a cadaver dog. Time permitting I’ll try doing this in a year or two after she finishes her MH degree
GSPs really are as fast and as athletic as Juliet is described in this novel. Schöene likes to do chins on our 6-foot fences between our back yard and the neighbors to see what’s going on next door. She has easily jumped over 5-foot fences when she wanted to get out of a fenced-in area. The only thing that keeps the dogs in our yard is their training and their desire to please their humans. They know they’re supposed to stay in the yard, and they do. Except, occasionally, for Schöne, who prefers to do things her way!
A few quotes from the current total of 40 Reviews:
1. “Best in Show” “I really enjoyed the storytelling vibe of the latest mystery featuring Los Angeles PI Roger Bowman and his cast of interesting characters–brainy wife Suzanne, gay former Seal and current nanny/chef/jack-of-all-trades Bruce, and junior detective/former spook Vincent. In this novel in the series Bowman is hired by the AKC board of directors to investigate funny business with regard to dog shows in the western US and Roger will tell us how the case goes every step of the way.
As a narrator, Roger leans heavily on description, with much of the dialogue following that formula for consistency, and some of his wry observations are true gems. In particular, don’t miss the descriptions of the different board members of the AKC, which are very clever with several laugh-out-loud bits.
Dog lovers, especially those who know anything about show dogs, and those who like their mysteries more cerebral than noir–although be ready for a surprising bit of raw action towards the end–will enjoy this book.”
2. “Enjoyable evolution in the Roger & Suzanne series” “I’ve read most of Jerold Last’s mysteries based on the character of private investigator Roger Bowman… [This] novel represents an enjoyable evolution in the Roger and Suzanne murder mystery series. As fun and interesting as the earlier South American story lines were, I found the shift to the California, U.S. Southwest and New York settings to be no less interesting and entertaining. Just as Last drew on his personal knowledge of South American culture and locations in his earlier books, he uses his extensive knowledge of the competitive dog show world to provide a detailed and credible new setting for his latest mystery. And his cast of characters continues to expand and develop, adding interest to his largely narrative story telling. Readers not familiar with the world of dog breeding, training and competition will appreciate the time Last takes to provide context and background. Once the first murder is uncovered, events move quickly with both action and suspense.”
3. “Lover of good mysteries” “Thoroughly enjoyed The Deadly Dog Show, the author’s best I believe. A good mystery set in a world I know almost nothing about. Now, as with other Jerold Last books, I have learned much.”
About the Author
The author is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry writes mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing but feature tougher protagonists and darker worlds than most cozies. Jerry knows the real world of dog shows from his own experience and that of his wife, Elaine, who breeds and shows prize-winning German Shorthair Pointer dogs. The cover photo is the author’s own dog Jolie (Grand Champion V. D. Nacht’s Classic Beaujolais, SH). Elaine provided technical advice for The Deadly Dog Show and editing for all of his books.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jerold-A.-Last/e/B0028EKOIY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1
For your chance to win an ebook copy of the author’s short story, The Dog With No Name, please fill in the Google Form below. Contest ends on 4/22/15 and winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries. If you cannot see the form below, please click HERE to access it. Good luck!
Brooke Blogs is not responsible for prize fulfillment in the ebook giveaway corresponding with the blog tour for The Deadly Dog Show by Jerold Last.