Dogs Don't Lie
Pru Marlowe isn't your ordinary animal psychic. A tough girl on the run from her own gift, Pru left the big city to return to her picturesque Berkshires hometown looking for a little peace. Too bad that her training as an animal behaviorist got her mixed up with Lily, a rescue dog, and Charles, her person. Now Charles is dead, and Lily looks good for it. After all, Lily is a pitbull, a fighting-ring dropout, and way too traumatized to give Pru a clear picture of what she has witnessed. But Pru knows something about bad girls trying to clean up, and, with a sense of justice strong enough to overcome her dislike of human society, she takes the case. Listening to the animals, Pru picks up clues—and learns there are secrets in the pretty little town that make murder look simple. Unable to tell anybody about her psychic abilities, uncertain at times about her own sanity, Pru comes to realize that if she clears Lily, she’ll likely become the prime suspect—or the next victim. While the only creature she can totally trust is her crotchety tabby Wallis, Pru’s got to uncover the real killer—and find a way to live with her gift—before the real beasts in the town savage her and those she has come to love.
The first in the Pru Marlowe “pet noir” series.
“A tightly plotted and interesting mystery, with a strong underlying flavor of 'Nancy Drew grown up.'”
“Her clever 13-year-old tabby, Wallis, provides snarky paws-on assistance...but [Pru’s] no slouch as a detective.”
“A smart, original voice.”
“Surprisingly creative twists.”
Excerpt from Dogs Don’t Lie
The problem with murder is that it’s messy. Not just the blood, the viscera, and what have you, but the boundaries. And when you’re trying to save a life – provide an alibi – for someone you know is innocent, well, the guilt tends to splash back onto you. Especially when there’s money involved.
That’s the problem I was facing on a perfectly fine September morning, when I’d rather have been back in bed. Drinking coffee on the porch. Cleaning litter boxes. Anything rather than trying to explain why I had my hands on the bloody collar of a panicked pit bull named Lily, and why neither of us was responsible for the corpse at our feet.
It had all started four months ago, when Lily’s person, the mangled corpse formerly known as Charles, had first called me for a consult. As a rule, I don’t like to work with pit bulls. It’s not the breed, it’s the people. Which, come to think of it, is usually the problem. But Lily was special. Lean and tightly muscled, with a short, soft coat of creamy white and the kind of brown eyes you could lose yourself in, Lily was a youngster who had been through too much for her years. She was safe now, but the memories showed, and that’s where, in theory, I came in. I was going to help her get over those memories. Not forget them, I’m not a miracle worker. Just move on, reclaim what was left of her doggy life. Leave the past to be scooped up by some other poor slob.
People, they’re trouble. But animals? When it comes to fur and four legs, I’m a softie. That’s why I’m a behaviorist, or almost, because at some point way too long ago, I wanted to know how our fellow creatures thought, and why. If I could make a living translating that for other humans, well, I thought I’d be doing honest work. That’s all different now, but this is my job, and I’m good at it. Most of the time, of course, the so-called owners don’t want to understand what’s going on with the animals that share their lives. They just want the behavior changed. Not that they’re willing to change their own.
Which didn’t explain what I was doing here in the sun-drenched living room with a bloody dog, a cop, and Charles. I had a hard time looking at Charles, what was left of him. Before something tore his throat open, leaving him to bleed out on his own refinished white oak floor, he’d been better than most. Tall, skinny guy, more brains than brawn, he’d had some heart, coming along for Lily when she’d needed him, and she’d had enough good animal sense to know it. All things considered, she’d been doing okay, too. Some nervous tics, fear issues ingrained on her from her less-than-ideal puppyhood. We were making progress. A little less frantic barking, a lot less cringing.
It didn’t matter. Standing there, trying not to show the strain of holding back forty pounds of pure muscle, I knew how it would come down. The gore that had soaked into Charles’ faded MIT sweatshirt would make everyone jump, and the pieces would fall like dominoes. An autopsy would list cause of death as heart failure, brought about by a combination of shock and blood loss. Forensics would show canine saliva in the jagged wounds that kept drawing my eye. If I were Lily’s guardian, I could probably press for DNA that would show the shell-shocked animal had nothing to do with the raw tears in Charles’ neck. But I wasn’t, and Lily would be dead by then anyway, euthanized as a precaution. Click, click, click.
“Lily–” I’d slipped up. On her license, the three-year-old white bitch – I use that word in the technical sense – was listed as Tetris, after the game. An ugly name, but one of Charles’ little computer-nerd jokes. “I mean, Tetris is not a vicious animal.”
“And you are?” The young cop who’d got the call was in a bad mood. Tossing your breakfast burrito at a crime scene will do that to you.
“Marlowe. Pru Marlowe.” Usually my first name gets me a slow once over and a smile, the kind I didn’t mind missing. “I’m the behaviorist.” A blank look, blue eyes flat as slate in his unlined face. “Like a trainer. I’d been working with Charles, with this dog, for a few months.”
“Really.” I’m good with animals, but I couldn’t read this young buck. “And do you train dogs to attack?”
from Dogs Don’t Lie, copyright 2011 by Clea Simon