Hi, everyone! I don’t blog much because obviously, I have better uses for my time. (Also, touch-typing without opposable thumbs sucks.) But I’m getting tired of this lockdown. The Hub isn’t allowed to go to work so he keeps following Barb around and explaining about M3 and the money supply. Barb mutters that she hasn’t had so much alone time with The Hub in a good forty years. Then she repeats, “a GOOD forty years” and sneaks off to her greenhouse.
But lately their conversation has really started to worry me. Phrases like, “If you go first, I’m taking your good pillow,” and “Well, it has to look like an accident or insurance will never pay out.” Clearly, it’s up to me to make sure they don’t damage each other. Don’t they realize their opposable thumbs are needed to fill my bowls at food:o’clock?
So I’ve been taking The Hub for walks every time Barb starts to mutter things like, “Does it take a P-H-effin-D to figure out how to load a dishwasher?”**
**[my theory? He knows perfectly well how to load a dishwasher, but yanking Barb’s chain is way more fun.]
Luckily, we live on a beautiful island, so there are lots of interesting places for me to take them on walks. I particularly love the beach. It’s full of sand to roll in, not to mention a gourmet buffet of tasty treats. First there are horses on our beaches, and what they leave behind is delicious! But then there is all the raw DIY-suishi and avian-tartare washed up on shore. And best of all? When I’m full, I can still roll in it!
Strangely, Barb is not a fan of this. I do it anyway, because…well, I’m a dog. Even though we all know there will be torture when I get back. Either she stands me on the back patio and scrubs me down with the (cold) hose, or even worse she takes me into the downstairs loo, traps me in the shower, and tries to drown me in shampoo. Nobody is happy with the results.
But last week, it started to get hot here. Really hot. I know people think we don’t have summer in the north of Scotland. But there was a day last year (or maybe the year before) when temperatures soared to almost 70F/21C. This is bad for people with magnificent fur coats. And actually, it’s pretty disturbing for the two-legs as well, because when it gets above 60F/15C, it’s taps aff. (No, that doesn’t refer to faucets turned off, but to the removal of shirts and exposure of disturbing amounts of pink Scottish skin.)
At least, that’s what happened last week here on our little Scottish island. Temperatures and humidity soared, midges—the Scottish national bird—swarmed, and I was totally miserable.
Mostly, that’s because my winter coat is beautifully long and impenetrable. And thanks to the lockdown, I couldn’t get my usual summer trim. Actually, Barb and The Hub can’t get their hair done either, so The Hub borrowed my clippers and did his own. Barb says it looks like it was gnawed off by rabid badgers, and refused when he offered to clip her hair. When he suggested that she might look good with bangs, she went back to the greenhouse and wouldn’t come out.
But good news! My friend Meghan took pity on Barb and agreed to give me a clip. They exchanged my leash at her gate like two nations doing a prisoner spy swap and Barb left. When she returned, she didn’t recognize me. I’d looked in Meghan’s mirror, so I could see why. The dog looking back at me was about half my regular size, a different color, and seemed to have lost about five years of age.
The Hub thinks I’m embarrassed to be so naked, but I love bouncing around and feeling so cool.
The Hub just tried to read Barb some clickbait article he found online about a lady who makes enormous amounts of money working from home during the lockdown. Barb is refusing to come out of the greenhouse until lockdown is lifted and he can go back to work. I’m a bit worried about what’s going to happen at food:o’clock, so I’ll just end this blog post with two messages.
- It’s summer now, even in Scotland. My friend Ani has an excellent post here reminding everyone about keeping your dogs and cats safe from heatstroke.
- Barb wrote a review (below) of a book starring hero dogs named Fred and Buddy. Other stuff happens that I don’t much care about, but Barb seems to be really excited about the latest Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, Lord of the Fleas.
I hope your lockdown is going well. If not, you really should consider shaving all your hair off.
Lord of the Fleas: A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery (The Marcia Banks and Buddy Mysteries Book 9)
- Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery
- Author: Kassandra Lamb
When service dog trainer Marcia Banks takes up temporary residence with her best friend in Williston, Florida, her goals are simple: spoil her toddler godchildren and train her newest dog’s veteran owner, a vendor at a local flea market.
Ha, the universe has other plans. When the owner of the flea market is found dead and her client is a prime suspect, she discovers that nothing is as it seems—from the flea market owner himself, to the ornate dragonhead cane he gave to her client, to the beautiful but not very bright young woman whom her client has a crush on.
The only true innocent in the bunch seems to be her guileless client. But when he shares a confidence that puts her in a double bind with local law enforcement, she’s not sure she can even trust him.
Despite her promises to her new husband, the only way out of her no-win dilemma seems to be to find the real killer. The flea market, however, is hiding more secrets, and at least one of them could be deadly.
Marcia Banks has a problem. Several problems, actually. She and her detective husband Will are about to celebrate their first anniversary. But Marcia is unsure about how to observe the date, Will seems distant, and as usual, people around Marcia have a tendency to drop dead. “Either Florida was the homicide capital of the world, or I’d developed really bad luck since moving here.”
Marcia has gone to another Florida city, Williston, to deliver and complete the training of endearingly-ugly service dog Fred for her new client, a handicapped veteran who runs a stall in a popular flea market. While there, she’s looking forward to spending time with her best friend, and especially with her twin godchildren. Marcia knows from bitter experience that she shouldn’t get involved when her new client becomes the target of violence and suspicion.
But when it appears that the local police are part of that danger, she reluctantly jumps in. Marcia has identified and accepted the difference between amateur detective and busybody, and has promised her loved ones to not to cross that line. And she means to keep that promise, she really does. Until she doesn’t.
But what’s she supposed to do when her best friend’s family become targets, when Marcia sees a law enforcement officer misbehave, and especially when her beloved dogs are in danger? It’s time for Marcia’s alter ego, Ms. Snark. Over the past books in the series, as Yankee Marcia moves to Florida where she finds friends, a home, a career, a partner, alligators, and tea so sweet it requires a diabetes test, Ms. Snark’s voice in her head has gone from sounding like her mom to steadily assuming the role of an individual character. Now she seems to want more. “More and more lately, Ms. Snark seemed to deny that she and I were the same person. What was that about?”
As a mystery author, Kassandra Lamb plays fair with her readers. Clues, red herrings, and misdirections abound as Marcia races to find a killer who doesn’t hesitate at theft, violence, and even murder. She wants to believe her client, but his war injuries have left him with anger issues, and Marcia’s doubts become our doubts.
Although it never takes center stage, another element in this episode is that of star-crossed lovers and the role of families. Like Romeo and Juliet, the budding relationship between Marcia’s client Derek and his slightly mentally-challenged colleague Nell could be destroyed by revelations of their family history, especially their fathers.
In Lord of the Fleas, we get an interesting and entertaining picture of the vendors in the flea market, plus the chance to see Marcia’s posse of friends and family develop. Unfortunately, though, the villain never became more than a two-dimensional collection of tropes. Given that the villain’s motivations are also inspired by traumatic family history, I think this was a missed opportunity.
But a cozy mystery doesn’t really require psychological drama, and the book more than makes up for this as the action ratchets up in a couple of pulse-pounding action scenes—babies and dogs in danger!—ensuring I read through the entire book in one sitting. So if you enjoy following an opinionated, often Ms. Snark-dominated amateur detective as she unravels clues, develops her relationships with family and friends, and drops dog-training tips along the way, then I completely recommend Lord of the Fleas and the rest of the Marcia Banks and Buddy Mysteries.