4 stars out of 5
Ever heard of Metamora, Indiana? Well, join the club. But because I was born and lived in the Hoosier State for the first eight years of my life, I've always been proud of my Bobby Knight country roots, so the setting for this book is what first got my attention. Turns out, according to Google Maps, that it's a tiny but historic canal town about a 66-minute southwesterly drive from my home town of Union City. That, and the fact that it's a cozy mystery - the kind of thing I enjoy reading in between those mess-with-your-head whodunits - prompted me to ask for (and was granted, thank you) this book in exchange for an honest review.
On the subject of location, I got more than my money's worth. Turns out that lead character Cameron Cripps-Hayman is new to Metamora, coming from Columbus (Ohio); reminiscing over her past life, she mentions several places I know well and love there, like the Short North district. The jackpot, however, came when she sat in on a class at Ivy Tech in Richmond, Indiana - the community college at which my late father taught business law for several years.
Of more import to the rest of the reading world is that this is a very good story. Cameron, recently separated from her husband Ben (Metamora's only police officer), finds a body floating in that aforementioned canal. When it's discovered that the dead woman has ties to both Cam and Ben, they become suspects - and Cam vows to do whatever it takes to find out who really did the deed. Along the way, she takes in the now-ownerless dogs that belonged to the victim (leading to the possibility of a business venture). She's also been providing telemarketing jobs for a group of people who have been ordered by the court to do community service, so she switches gears, dubs them the Metamora Action Agency and puts them to work on solving the case (much to Ben's dismay).
In between, she must deal with Ben's teenage daughter Mia, who could use an attitude adjustment (or better yet, a couple of slaps upside the head) and his snobby mother, Irene (ditto). As might be expected, Cam's relationship with Ben is on again, off again; also predictably, Cam goes off on her own despite warnings from Ben and a neighboring police chief to keep her nose out of the investigation. Is she successful? Will she and Ben patch things up or go their separate ways? Will the domineering mom-in-law and stepdaughter get their comeuppance? My lips are sealed, of course, but keep in mind that this is a cozy mystery, where, in the end, God's in his heaven and all's right with the world.
Deadly Dog Days by Jamie M. Blair (Midnight Ink, November 2016); 240 pp.