3 out of 5 stars
I was able to read an electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, as I am auto-approved by Endeavour Press. So I can honestly say this review is all my own and obligation free as I chose the book, and choose to leave any reviews. 😉
Okay, this is one of those I read months ago and never got to leave a review at the time. I have to say it is one of my favourite types of 20th century crime fiction – a story written at the time it was set. And that time was 1939 so within that magical “Golden Age of Crime” era. There is just something about the writing style of crime fiction written in the first half of the 1900’s that I adore and so was not disappointed with ‘Death at the Dog’.
The basic summary I can give without spoilers is it’s your typical English country village, the death occurs at the pub – The Dog – and a rather clever detective who has a slightly “against the grain” type personality is called in to investigate. He moves from witness to witness over and over again until the crime is slowly unravelled for the reader and then the whodunit is revealed nicely at the end. There is just that right amount of red herrings and side drama to keep the reader interested and the characters are well described and very engaging.
So, yes, a perfect little period piece written in the time that it was set – so containing all the nuances, quirks, social beliefs, and mannerisms truly of that era – and not tainted by modern life’s opinions cloaked in artistic license. 😉
There are only two issues I have with ‘Death at the Dog’ and they are very minor… Well, one is minor, the other should hopefully have been fixed before the final proof was published.
The minor issue is this appears to be a part of a series, as the detective brought in was known to have dealt with crimes in that area before. ‘Death at the Dog’ was still easy to read as a stand-alone book, but I am a bit funny with series and like to know all the ins and outs and not come in mid-way through. But I really want to emphasise this is not a BIG issue… more a wrinkle your mind can smooth over to allow you to read on and enjoy the story.
The bigger issue is there were obvious formatting issues when ‘Death at the Dog’ was transcribed/ formatted into an eBook. As there are constant run on words, new paragraphs mid-sentence and other obvious signs of the formatting not being correctly done for at least the kindle version I was reading. BUT! I was reading an ARC, and I always like to give the benefit of the doubt and assume this issue was corrected before the final proof was published. I just get pernickety over poorly formatted eBooks. Yes I am used to it happening back at the dawn of eBooks when older classics were transferred from paper media to electronic… but that was a LONG TIME ago now and I know for a fact the formatting of eBooks is a lot easier these days and so should not be an issue. Sorry, bit of a Diva moment… but the poor formatting really did bring down my enjoyment level when reading to the point I gave ‘Death at the Dog’ a lower rating that I would have… if the formatting was correct.
Would I recommend this book to others?
Despite the formatting and it not being a true stand-alone book, yes I would. It was enjoyable for being what it was – a period piece written in the time is was set… plus it was written in that Golden Age of crime fiction. Think Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and G.K. Chesterton. If you enjoy any of their work, then I think you should give ‘Death at the Dog’ a go too.
Would I buy this book for myself?
I might… but, if I am honest, if I was going to I would look for the paper version in a second-hand book shop. So, technically I wouldn’t be buying THIS book… but an older version of it. But, saying that, I would be just as happy with an electronic version, if the formatting was indeed fixed. Hi, my name is Janis and I am a formatting Diva known to throw stones while living in a glass house. 😉
In summary: If you are a lover of the Golden Age of Crime Fiction, this is indeed a book you will enjoy.
Until next time,