Extraordinary Tales

Looking for a special gift for a dog lover? Here’s a suggestion: Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. In addition to being a freelance writer and a shelter volunteer, Rebecca is the founder of the Deja Foundation.  According to her bio on the foundation’s website, she shares her home with two rescued pit bulls. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why she was committed to publishing these stories.

Quoting directly from the front flap of the book jacket:

…Devoted tells the stories of dogs who are rescued, and who rescue in return. Meet Lily, an adopted pit bull who stood in front of an oncoming train to protect her fallen owner; or Faith, a chow chow mix who defied the odds to learn to walk on two legs.

From across the globe, each inspiring tale brings to light unparalleled displays of fortitude, faith, and love. Discover 38 heartwarming friends and experience first hand the bond that knows no bounds.

Published by the National Geographic Society and beautifully illustrated, Devoted is available from the National Geographic Society as well as IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Do you have a favorite rescue story? Share it with us via the comments. And if you have photos to share, you’re welcome to send them to dogmysteries@gmail.com to be included in the slideshow. Be sure to include the dog’s name with the photo!

Dogs are Bestsellers!

“Mystery, action, and humor … a great storyteller.”

Richard Houston, the bestselling author who visited with us last month, is making headlines again. His first two books in the “To Die For” mystery series are #1 and #2 bestsellers in the “cozy animal mystery” category on Amazon. The series features an amateur sleuth and his canine sidekick, a gorgeous Golden Retriever named Fred.  Congratulations, Richard; we’re excited for you!

Bestselling author Richard Houston does it again!

Bestselling author Richard Houston does it again!

In case you missed the May 5th post about Richard and his beloved dog Fred (who inspired the series), you can find it again here. (Or, if you’re feeling adventurous and have some time) you can browse backward through the posts on this page until you find Richard’s post. Plenty of great books–and dogs–to see along the way!

The first in the series is A View to Die Forand the second is A Book to Die For.  And now, Richard, the BIG question: how soon can we read book #3 in this great series?  I’m looking forward to more of Fred’s adventures with Jake!

A Different Kind of Dog Story

Hiker crossing Little Frog Bayou on her daily morning walk. Photo © James Warnock

Hiker crossing Little Frog Bayou on her daily morning walk. Photo © James Warnock

The Ozark Highlands Trail is not for the faint of heart. It’s 218 miles of trails crossing 165 miles of rugged terrain, with a good bit of it in the Ozark National Forest. Here’s the description from the Ozark Highlands Trail Association:

The trail passes through some of the most remote and scenic portions of the Ozark Mountains, like the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. It also visits White Rock Mountain (best sunset in the Arkansas!), Hare Mountain, the Marinoni Scenic Area, Dead Dog Bluff, and countless other breathtaking spots.

I live in the Ozarks and over the years have hiked many a mile in the region. Late winter hikes are sometimes the best (less worry about snakes, and spectacular views through the leafless trees), but the trail is a magical place year round. And while my boots seldom hit the trails these days, I love to read the stories shared by hiking enthusiasts, photographers, and others who celebrate the wonders of the outdoors.

One of those hikers is Jim Warnock, whose blog is a feast for the spirit. When I read the story of how a dog came to be his new trail partner, I knew I had to let others know where to find this remarkable tale. The story began in mid-January and when Jim and his hiking partner, Bob, set off to complete the last leg of the trail. Here’s Jim:

A third hiking partner joined us on our first night out.  We were setting up camp at mile 138 when an emaciated black lab appeared.  We ignore her in hopes that she would reunite with her owners but the next day she quietly followed us for fourteen miles.  At the end of that day we gave in and shared some of our beef and turkey jerky.  These were limited rations because neither of us packed much extra food. Bob said, “If we’d known we’d have a dog, we would have packed some Alpo.”

This black lab demonstrated good outdoor skills as she curled up in a nest of leaves next to a log. The following morning we feared we were going to witness the death of this dog but she persevered and continued mile after mile with only limited rations from our small surplus of food.

Hiker on the OHT

“We feared we were going to witness the death of this dog.” Photo © James Warnock

There’s much more to the story, and you can read it here. And once you’ve read how the story began, take a look at Jim’s most recent posts and learn the 12 qualities that make this dog an ideal hiking partner. Here’s a photo Jim sent along for the slideshow, showing his new partner ready for her next adventure!


She’s ready to go! Photo © James Warnock

For more great photos and stories, view the slideshow at Jim’s blog. And then grab your boots and find a trail near you!

The Magic of the Ozarks

Hwy 7 National Scenic Byway near Jasper AR Photo by Tim Ernst (All rights Reserved)

Hwy 7 National Scenic Byway near Jasper AR just before sunrise  (Photo by Tim Ernst. All rights Reserved.)

Take one look at this photo by the famous photographer Tim Ernst and you’ll know why I say legends live on in the Ozarks Mountains.  It’s a place of magic and mystery, where ties run deep and stories and superstitions can linger for generations.

One such story is The Lady of the Valley, recounted in the book Ozark Tales and Superstitions by the late Phillip W. Steele. (You can get a copy online at IndieBound or  Amazon or at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.) As the story is told:

A few years before he was married Jess Mcelhaney was returning home from an evening spent in the old town of Aurora. After being startled by an opossum scurrying across the road, Jess saw a bright light appear a few yards away; he stopped and gazed at it with an almost hypnotic stare. Within the bright halo of light he saw the figure of a young woman. She was dressed in a white dress and wore dark stockings. Her hair hung to her waist, and she was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen–or ever would see. The lady was not carrying a lantern, yet she appeared to be completely encircled by light. Jess also recalls how he thought it most odd that his figure cast a shadow beneath the full moon but hers did not.

….During the past fifty years many other citizens of the area say they have had a glimpse of the beautiful lady in the valley. Most believe she rises at rare intervals from the old Aurora graveyard at the head of the valley and walks from there through the meadow. It is said that she only rises on warm nights when the moon is in its fullest stage.

This story and other Ozark tales are included in my series, which is set in the high Ozarks. In Book 2 of the series (due out later this year), you’ll learn about the ghosts of Eureka Spring’s Crescent Hotel (considered by many to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country), the Monster of Peter Bottom Cave, the Devil’s Teakettle, and more.

Let’s Get to Know Jerold Last

We’ve recently seen a growth in cross-genre and blended-genre fiction, and that includes the world of mystery fiction. Today’s featured author offers a different kind of mystery that draws upon seemingly diverse styles to create a solid series that’s sure to attract a wide range of readers.

Jerold Last, Author

Jerold Last, Author

Jerold (“Jerry”) Last is a college professor and a writer of mystery fiction that’s sure to attract dog lovers. At the University of California’s Medical School, he puts his Ph.D. in Biochemistry to work studying asthma and the effects of air pollution on the lungs. Off campus, he applies his research skills to writing the popular Roger and Suzanne mystery series.

The writing process seems to be a family affair. Jerry’s wife Elaine provides editing and technical advice for the novels. Elaine breeds prize-winning (conformation and hunt tests) German Shorthaired Pointer dogs, a breed that’s featured in the series. Both love to travel, and that’s evident in the locales featured in the series. Experience living in Argentina and Uruguay helped Jerry choose the South American locales for his fictional sleuths. His fifth novel in the series sends them to the Galapagos Islands, and I hear Alaska is the next location for this dynamic sleuthing duo.

Here’s Jerry, talking about his work:

I’ve been a big fan of mystery novels all my life.  I started reading The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in grade school.  Erle Stanley Gardner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came next, before I hit my teens.   As I moved towards college and nominal adulthood, my favorites became the masters of the private eye genre, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald.   I like the hard-boiled style, the role of the private detective as the hero, and the fast pace of the action as a complex plot unfolds.  It just seemed, one day, that I should try constructing the puzzles as well as trying to solve them.  And here I am.

I start with things I know—South America, California, German Shorthaired Pointer dogs, science, fictional California private investigators like  Roger, and scientists like Suzanne on the faculty of the University of California.   I start writing after the plot has had time to develop in my subconscious mind for a while.  Part of the way through, it takes on a life of its own and leads me wherever the characters want it to go.

My books are not traditional cozies, even though they routinely pop up on Amazon in the cozy category.  They’re better described as “tweeners” with a style that falls somewhere between cozy and hard-boiled.  You won’t find “bad words” (at least in English), and there are no gratuitous sex scenes in my books because I think they take away from the flow of plot and suspense.   However, there are pretty high body counts and scenes of violence in most of the novels and the novellas.

My target audience likes fast-paced action in “who done it” kind of mysteries. They like dogs, visiting interesting and unusual locations where exotic food is the norm, and a series format where they can revisit old friends in subsequent books.

 The Deadly Dog Show

Ever wondered what it’s like to own—or maybe it’s more like to be owned by—a  German Shorthaired Pointer?  Get your own tutorial in The Deadly Dog Show!  The seventh book in the 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.

Dog show cover copyTo 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.

This suspenseful “whodunit” novel should appeal to mystery fans, dog lovers, and anyone who wants to learn more about the world of dog show competition. Read a Deadly Dog Show Excerpt.

Well done and captivating. I loved the character development and was truly drawn into the story with all of its twists and turns.

The Roger and Suzanne Mystery Series

The series includes five novels, two novellas, and an anthology of short stories to date, with more on the way! Here’s a list of what’s currently available exclusively on Amazon in Kindle editions. Locales are noted after each title.


The Ambivalent Corpse [Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay]

The Surreal Killer [Peru, Chile]

The Matador Murders [Uruguay, Chile]

The Deadly Dog Show [California, Texas, New York City] 

The Origin of Murder [Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands]


The Body in the Parking Structure [Los Angeles, California]

The Body in the Bed [Montevideo, Uruguay]

Five Quickies for Roger and Suzanne [Salta, Argentina; Fortaleza, Brazil; and Los Angeles, California ]. this is a novel-length anthology of shorter (“quickie”) stories featuring all of the characters from the popular South American mystery series!

Follow this author!

To see details of all Jerry’s work, visit his Amazon sales page. For a more personal look at the author and his family (and dogs!), check out his blog entitled “South American Mystery Novels and Stuff” at http://rogerandsuzannemysteries.blogspot.com. Drop by and leave a comment!