Bestselling author Neil S. Plakcy, does it again with Volume 3 of his running four-part "Golden Retriever Mystery" series: Dog Helps Those.
Once more, Professor Steve Levitan and his faithful Golden Retriever, Rochester, are on the hunt for a murderer. This time, it's not just Steve's job and career at Eastern college that's at stake, but the whole prestigious college itself.
The story takes place in Pennsylvania's quaint and historic town of Stewart's Crossing. In Volume 1, In Dog We Trust, we find out that Steve Levitan had returned to Stewart's Crossing, where he had grown up, after a stint in a California prison for illegal computer hacking. While in prison, his father died and his wife divorced him.
Shortly after moving back to Stewart's Crossing, Steve's next door neighbor, Caroline Kelly, was murdered one night as she walked her big Golden Retriever, Rochester. Although Levitan didn't like dogs all that much, he adopted Caroline's dog after the murder and the two would later bond and become best friends. Sleuthing together, and with Rochester showing an uncanny ability to sniff out clues, they solved Caroline Kelly's murder.
In Volume 3, Dog Helps Those, back in Stewart's Crossing, at times in New York city, and at the Eastern campus, Neil Plakcy continues in his fun, entertaining and clever style to weave a tale of multiple suspects and possible motives.
First, he nicely establishes a very prominent alumna of Eastern, a woman named Rita Gaines who is on the Board of Trustees at Eastern and who is also involved in financial investments that affect the college. Rita is a most unpleasant and abrasive character, the kind that rubs just about everyone the wrong way. She also, as it turns out, owns a large dog breeding and training business.
One day during an art exhibit, a painting by a foreign exchange student, Felae, upsets Rita and she has the work removed. Felae, a student of both Professor Levitan and his girlfriend Lili, is angry and drives to Rita's place and threatens to kill her. Many witness this threat, including Levitan and his childhood friend-turned-police-officer, Rick Stempler.
The next day Rita is found dead.
No one knows how Rita died at first, and it wasn't even clear it was murder, until forensics digs deeper and found she'd been cleverly killed in a way to disguise what really happened.
Felae is the obvious first suspect, but Steve and Lili aren't convinced. Meanwhile, the plot thickens. All the faculty and staff of Eastern are under tremendous pressure because it's very close to graduation and there's a buggy computer program that's been wreaking havoc and messing everything up. We later come to find out that a long-time staff member of Eastern, who is in charge of computer software, had been taking large amounts of money from the makers of this program. This, in part, explained why nothing had been done about it despite the many problems and complaints.
As the story continues, it becomes suspiciously apparent that there's a link between Rita's murder and her financial investing, which also had ties to the software causing problems at Eastern. The suspect list builds, which now includes not only staff at Eastern and people involved with Rita's investing, but also some who bought dogs from her or trained at her facility who were upset with her for various reasons.
Read or listen to Dog Helps Those to find out what happens. Wind your way through the mysterious maze and see how once again, Rochester proves himself to be invaluable in helping solve the case and catching the perpetrator.
All three volumes are available on audiobook, so be sure to listen to the whole series. Just go to Amazon's Audible site and look for In Dog We Trust (Volume 1), The Kingdom of Dog (Volume 2), and Volume 3, of course: Dog Helps Those. Dog Bless You, Volume 4, will also be available in audiobook in early 2014.