Books & Literature

Book Review: The Spotted Dog, by Kerry Greenwood

When Geordie, a trained sniffer dog and an Afghanistan veteran like his owner, is kidnapped, Corinna Chapman takes on the case.

Kerry Greenwood is better known for her other detective, the Hon Phryne Fisher, but you are in for a treat if you haven’t yet sampled the Earthly Delights of Corinna, baker extraordinaire.

Geordie, the spotted dog of the title, is a trained sniffer dog, and an Afghanistan veteran like his owner, Alasdair. The multiple strands of the tale twist and turn at a cracking pace with a convincing plot I found unputdownable – reading it in one long session.

Seven years between Corinna Chapman stories is far too long. One feels completely at home in her bakery and amongst Corinna’s amazing neighbours in the Insula apartment building in Melbourne. I want to live there and enjoy a G and T in the roof garden, lovingly maintained by Trudi; or exchange pleasantries and Latin or Greek quotations with Professor Monk and learn spells from Meroe, the resident witch.

The main plot concerns the theft of Geordie, the spotted dog, who is far more than a pet to his owner – he is more like a lifeline as the returned soldier struggles with the impact of PTSD. Corinna and lover Daniel, a sometime Israeli agent, take Alasdair under their wing while trying to work out who has kidnapped Geordie and why. At the same time they are dealing with break-ins at apartments in their building, seemingly motivated by religious zeal and ancient texts – the plot thickens!

Greenwood has a very sure hand with all these disparate threads and weaves a wonderful story against the comforting background of the regularity of the Earthly Delights bakery. Here we meet Midshipman Jason, the apprentice – he has a penchant for Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey and Maturin books – and the young women who work in the shop – Goss and Kylie – so interchangeable in looks and personality that Corinna needs them to identify themselves when speaking. These descriptions have a definite ring of truth to them in their descriptions of teenagers, as does Goss’ apparent belief in the reality of zombies!

As well as a truly diverse cast of well-drawn, believable characters, readers are also treated to some lively social commentary from Corinna. She has definite views on many topics such as wine, cats and following your dreams, and is not backwards about expressing her opinions. Greenwood’s splendid characterisations provide the reader with ‘real’ people to identify with and care about in this series. There is the wonderful added bonus of recipes to sample at the end of the book.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2018
RRP: $29.99

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