Book, screen, stage, festival & event reviews.
Thoughts on J .F. Englert's first Randolph novel are here. It's called A Dog About Town. It was fun; it was different; for an animal protagonist book, it was a significant cut above anything I'd read before (not that I'd read that many). Far less suspension of disbelief was required; it was possible to really believe in this black Labrador Retriever Randolph and to enter his mind, and enjoy! (I suggest you put that down to wonderful creativity, supreme knowledge of dogs and great writing skills on the part of the author.)
In A Dog About Town, we met Randolph and his owner Harry, just as Imogen, Harry's partner had vanished without trace. They had a murder mystery to solve, but they were brooding and grieving and when A Dog Among Diplomats opens, we learn that Imogen has indeed left a trace afterall. Alas, it's not a good one…
A murder has taken place in Manhattan's East Village and the investigating detective, Peter Davis calls Harry, as evidence suggests Imogen's presence at the crime scene (making her the prime suspect). The location is an unusual boarding house which provides a welcome to those who work at the UN. The plot revolves around the questions of "Is she still alive?" and "Could Imogen really be a murderer?", but there's far more than that in this novel, as well as the shenanigans of those who work at the UN and stay at this property (ever at risk of murder, as it transpires).
How do both Harry and Randolph cope with the disclosure? Can Imogen be found?
Then there are both Harry's and Randolph's journeys in new experiences. These include a Vespa for transport around New York, incorporating a specially-designed hold for Randolph, but also the intrusion of young Haddy, Harry's demanding niece (blame it on the mother), on the Vespa and elsewhere. Harry's persistence in seeking the advice of the flakey, or simply fraudulent, resulting in the potentially spurious diagnoses for both owner and dog, with the owner diagnosis leading to a fully blown clean out of the apartment they share and the removal of the Alpha-Bits that allowed dear sentient Randolph to communicate with his owner, Harry. And there's even more.
Enjoyment here is rooted in the journey for our protags Harry and Randolph. In A Dog Among Diplomats we are far more with Randolph than Harry, as opposed to A Dog About Town. The feeling of loss is again covered, as is recovery and moving on. But where all that leads can be found in the novel.
You do have to suspend disbelief in some measure for this series. But once capable of that, you will enjoy Randolph and his adventures, I assure you. Friend of dogs, friend of quality story-telling, friend of a nice murder mystery? You'll love this: both the first and second novel in the series, so give them a try.
Back in May, JF made himself available for some discussion on the forum at Library Thing. You can find further insight to his work and his thoughts on the publishing world here. In there, you'll find the promise of more to come; says Englert:
"… The third book which is in the works as we speak (Randolph has strict instructions on sticking to deadline) will see Randolph and Harry go to sea on a singles cruise for dog lovers with their dogs and various characters like the dog mutterer who uses a Tourettes-based approach to communicate with canines and other worthies who give Randolph plenty of food for philosophical and comedic observations on the human species. It will be called A Dog At Sea."
I'm looking forward to it.