Three Dog Day: A Mae December Mystery by Lia Farrell

Three Dog Day: A Mae December Mystery by Lia Farrell
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

It’s bitter cold in Rosedale, Tennessee, the most frigid January in decades. The kind of chill they used to describe as requiring sleeping with three dogs just to make it through the night. Mae December has found yet another body, this one on the banks of the Little Harpeth River. It’s another murder for her boyfriend, Sheriff Ben Bradley, to investigate. Only Mae’s broken her wrist, which makes helping out with the case difficult. That’s okay, because the murdered man was found near a puppy mill, and all evidence points to the owner as the killer. Surely the case will be a slam dunk. Mae’s injury also hampers her ability to run her dog boarding business and care for the three pit bull puppies she’s fostering, so she hires Ray Fenton, the kid who blew the whistle on the now-shuttered puppy mill. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bradley’s office manager, Dory Clarkson, struggles to pass the physical tests that will allow her to fulfill her dream of becoming a deputy, Mae and her friend Tammy are busy planning Tammy’s Valentine’s Day wedding to the brother of Mae’s deceased fiancé, and Detective Wayne Nichols must revisit his painful past as he fights to free his foster mother from prison. Rosedale is the last place you’d expect to harbor a killer. Now the sheriff’s department must solve its third murder in a year.

Mae December has found another body. She is out walking Lulu, one of the dogs in her boarding kennels, along a trail that a friend had recommended when Lulu finds a body at the edge of the river. As Mae and Lulu make their way back up the bank to get back on the trail, Mae slips in icy mud, breaking her left wrist as she falls.

Thus begins the third Mae December mystery, and while Mae is slowed by a broken wrist, she is not stopped. She is soon involved in investigating a puppy mill as well as the murder.

Mae is a wonderful main character, well-developed with both strengths and weaknesses, so that she seems very real. She is supported by a host of characters, including her boyfriend, Sheriff Ben Bradley, her best friend Tammy, and one of my favorites, Dory Clarkson, who runs the sheriff’s office and aspires to become a detective.

The plot has several different threads, some closely linked and one, more distantly. The story does stand alone, in that the reader doesn’t need to have read the first two books in the series. However, the plot thread that revolves around Detective Wayne Nichols might be a bit difficult to get into right away if you haven’t read the first two. While there are a few references to Wayne early in the novel, we don’t actually meet him until Chapter Nine, and the transition to his story seemed a bit abrupt. That being said, Wayne’s case is one of deep complexity, concerning issues of social justice, so I found it to be compelling.

The chapters are titled by the date and the name of the person from whose perspective the chapter is told and this allows for a variety of perspectives without any confusion on the reader’s part. The different points of view allows for a greater depth to the plot, and I enjoyed that aspect of this novel.

Three Dog Day is a wonderful cozy mystery, and a great addition to a lovely series. It is sure to offer a lot of entertainment for mystery fans.

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