Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Review: A Dog About Town by J.F. Englert

Review of A Dog About Town by J.F. Englert

A Dog About TownSynopsis:
Randolph, an unlikely protagonist, is the labrador turned detective on the Upper West Side. A dog of unusual perspicacity, Randolph lives with young painter Harry. Harry recently lost his fiancee and Randolph's original owner, Imogen, and Harry hasn't been the same since. Rudderless and delving into the world of paranormal, Harry somehow finds himself at seance with an unusual death. As the murders pile up, Randolph has to find a way to somehow solve the crime with Harry's help, decipher what happened to Imogen, and save his master's life - all the while without Harry realizing Randolph's special talents.

I enjoyed the book very much and would highly recommend it. Admittedly, I was predisposed to like it - I am an avid dog lover without a dog and have since childhood enjoyed books about dogs and horses as well as mystery novels. But there is many a slip from the cup to the lip and J.F. Englert's execution was very well done! 

Randolph's character is witty and sensitive and endearing. (Spoiler alert!) It makes a huge difference that Randolph is sentient, literate, and better read than his master, Harry. It reminds me a little bit of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves, although Harry isn't as clueless as Jeeve's charge.  

Here's a brief excerpt:

I am also sentient. I can think. I can remember. I can understand that as the teller 
of this tale I had best get most of this explanatory material over with at the beginning. 
Like the reader, I compare the past and the present. I strategize and calculate. This is 
not a possibility entertained by the Miriam-Webster definition. The competent editors 
of that publication are not to blame for the oversight. Most dogs certainly do not behave 
in ways that would suggest sentience (although I might also add that most humans do 
not either as is apparent from the hastiest glances at the newspapers). Moreover, there 
is at present no way to penetrate my species' muteness. Science is unable to plumb the 
depths of our cerebral cortices and discern the lives of our minds. (pages 4-5)

I hadn't expected much from a book with a canine detective and had fully underestimated its possibilities. It's a highly enjoyable read.

Format and cover:
Catchy cover draws your attention. The picture fits well with the characters and plot!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Release date: 2007 by Bantam Dell (271 pages)
Courtesy of the New York Public Library


  1. Hi Gaby!

    There is an award waiting for you on my blog page.

  2. Hi Gaby,
    JF Englert wanted me to let you know that he will be having some exciting news around a fourth book soon!