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Doggone Dead

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Member Reviews

This is a fun debut of this pet theme cozy mystery series.  I loved this book and read it cover to cover. The characters are wonderfully drawn to the story, the sleuth was fascinating and fun to follow and I love the theme of a retired dog walker.  Doggone Dead is the first book in the charming new " 2 Sisters Pet Valet mystery series by Dane McCaslin. 

In this debut we are introduced to Gwen who is newly retired from teaching high school. She wants to rest, relax and read but her friend Nora  has other ideas and talks her into a dog walking/pet sitting business. They have a dog park across the street and a need for dog walkers in their community.  They are joined by Brent who is their Uber driver and wants to be part of the business to. 

When Nora's nemesis is found dead in her kitchen Nora is suspect number one. She and Gwen must clear her name before their business ends before it begins . I loved this pet themed new mystery. It is such a smart cozy mystery with all the right elements that cozy lovers enjoy. The sleuth was very well crafted and kept me guessing to conclusion. The charcters are wonderful and all likable.  I look forward to the next in series and hope this will be a long running cozy series .
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Retired teacher Gwen Franklin gets hoodwinked into partnering in a dog walking business with her best and oldest friend Nora.  Along the way, they hook up with a young, just-out of school former pupil of Gwen, Brett, who ends up doing most of the work. While Gwen and Nora are out distributing fliers about their new business, Nora’s oldest nemesis and enemy, Linda, is found stabbed on the floor in Nora’s kitchen. What to do? Ever resourceful, the pair begins a hunt for who did this dastardly thing, trying to frame Nora for the murder.  Next comes the death of Nora’s ex-stepson, Buddy, making things a bit more complex. In addition, enter Marcus, a ne’er-do-well detective with the hots for Nora. Now the pair of amateur sleuths have another murder on their plate, a business to run, dogs that keep attaching themselves to Gwen and Brett, as well as a myriad of other things and people who keep cropping up.  To think that Gwen thought retirement was going to be easy! 

This is an okay story.  It moved along nicely.  However, the characters had little depth to them.  The more I read, the story got, if I can even use this work, corny, in my opinion.  I found it okay, just not great. Not sure if I would try another book in what I think is a series. I guess I would, with hopes that I would take to it better than I did this one. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
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This is a brand new cozy-series with a retired teacher at the helm, or at least she hopes to be post-retirement. Her best friend has other plans, and she is more chaotic than an unexpected weather event. The friend, Nora drags Gwen (our teacher) into a very ill-thought pet sitting plan. In this venture comes a dead body. Additionally, problems that go with being either suspect in the police’s eye and in the cross-hairs of the villain(s).
The cuteness factor of odd pets and odder ex-student(s) is thrown into the mix, making it a fun read. It laid good groundwork for a series, but I was a little annoyed by the depth of descriptions in the narration and the repetitive mentions of the character’s behavioural traits throughout the entire book. For people less impatient than me, this would work better.I might read the next in the series if I get the chance, but it has to be a little quicker for my taste

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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In what should be a tiresome troupe, retiree solving mysteries, this turned out to be a delightful book that destroyed my hesitancy when I started to cozy.  I really enjoyed it and promptly recommended it to friends and family who enjoy retiree mystery books.
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Doggone Dead:  A 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery
By Dane McCaslin
September 2020

Review by Cynthia Chow

After decades of teaching high school teenagers, Gwen Franklin is looking forward to spending her early retirement reading in bed with her collection of Agatha Christie novels.  That’s not about to happen if her best friend from childhood has anything to say about it, and Nora Goldstein doesn’t waste a minute enlisting Gwen in one of Nora’s many business operations.  After a lifetime of marrying up earned Nora considerable wealth, her latest venture as a luxury apartment dog-walker is one she sees perfect for Gwen’s free time.  That Gwen is violently allergic to all pets doesn’t register as an obstacle for Nora; not when Benadryl and facemasks are available.  Before they can greet their first pet-sitting though, they discover the body of fellow apartment resident Linda Fletcher, stabbed to death in Nora’s kitchen.

That Linda was the Nora’s lifelong nemesis certainly makes her a primary suspect in the murder, but their eerie resemblance to one another leads to alternative implications of mistaken identities.  It’s not long before Nora’s assortment of many stepchildren land on her doorstep, eager to accept what they see as their rightful inheritances. Or to perhaps dance on her grave.  Nora sees Gwen’s in-depth knowledge of fictional mysteries as a qualifier for them to become investigators, although it’s Gwen’s connections with her former students that really give them a head-start on the investigations and lead them down the path towards both Linda’s and Nora’s many enemies.

This debut 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery starts by quickly immersing the reader into the action, giving it the sense of a long established series.  Sisters from another mister, Nora and Gwen have a lifetime bond that has them interacting like only squabbling siblings can.  The stable force in their relationship, Gwen nevertheless finds herself drawn into the chaos even as she learns a new appreciation for four-legged companions.  That her past students keep popping up to assist is a delight, especially when it allows readers to see how Gwen must have been such an effective teacher.  Humor, many furry and feathered companions, and banter between these ladies of a certain age are sure to entertain readers of this lively and fun new series.
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It’s the first day of Gwen Franklin’s new life. Goodbye career as a high-school English teacher, hello early retirement. She has plans that don’t include being woken up by Nora Goldstein, her best friend from kindergarten and her sister-from-another-mother.

“What do you want?” I sounded as surly as I felt. I’d been looking forward to this first late morning from the moment I’d announced my intention to retire early from a wonderful but exhausting career as a high school teacher. I wanted to sleep in, get up and have coffee, and go right back to bed, preferably with a book. “This had better be really good.”


“And a good morning to you too, Gwen.”

Persistent Nora tells her “bestie” that she has a fabulous idea to share.  Oh no, thinks Gwen but Nora can back up her notions: “What Nora lacked in common sense, she made up for in dollar bills. As in millions of them, all tucked securely away in various banks, thanks to a rather extensive lineup of ex-husbands.” Nora tells Gwen to be at “The Friendly Bean in one hour sharp.” In Portland coffee is so much more than a beverage, it’s the liquid that fuels everyone’s engine. Gwen hoped to work her way through her “extensive collection of mysteries, beginning with the dame herself, Agatha Christie,” but Nora is not to be gainsaid. She’s waiting for Gwen, dressed in her usual “decades too young” style and wearing “more is better” makeup. What an Odd Couple. At least Nora ordered Gwen a cup of Joe.

I sighed, shook my head, and took another tentative taste of my coffee. Good to go. It was a real woman’s drink: dark roast, black as ink, and guarantee to put hair on my chest. As if that would even matter. I glanced at my unshaven legs, where they poked out from a pair of old denim capris, scratchy with stubble and white enough to use as nighttime beacons in the harbor. Retirement chic in all its glory.

Nora wants them to start the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Services. With Portland’s inclement weather, pet owners will jump at a chance to have someone else walk their darlings and scoop up the poop. Before they can whip up business cards, there’s a spanner in the works: how could they have anticipated “finding Linda Fletcher’s very dead, very murdered body in Nora’s kitchen?” Gwen is a mouseburger but not a pushover. She stands up to the police who seem to think Nora is the murderer.

I drew myself up to my full height of five feet nothing, my chin jutting out like the bow of a ship sailing full tilt into harbor. “I had nothing to do with it and neither did Mrs. Goldstein. And you can put that in your pipe and smoke it. If you smoke, that is. Personally, I’ve always found it to be a disgusting habit.


I shot Nora a triumphant glance, ignoring the stifled snort of laughter coming from one of the officers. My brilliant repartee would send them packing, their proverbial hats in their hands. This would be even better than Holmes and Watson or Poirot and Hastings. Franklin and Goldstein—another dynamic duo, Portland style.


“Yeah, yeah. That’s what they all say.” The detective motioned impatiently for Nora to step into the hall, rudely imploding my dream.

Will the vintage mysteries Gwen loves, which fuel her mystery-solving dreams, provide a mystery-solving roadmap? Gwen does have the gift of thoughtful observation, honed over many years in the classroom. She has an inflexible retirement budget so if she and Nora are going into business, they need to take it seriously. Before finding a dead body in the kitchen, they already had customers lined up. Who’s going to walk the dogs if the ladies are at the police station? Time to out-source and embrace the gig economy.

Enter Brent Mayfair, Gwen’s former student and possibly Portland’s worst Uber driver. Gwen has an extensive network of appreciative graduates—who would diss Miz Franklin?

Brent Mayfair had been a mediocre student but a sweet kid, always anxious to include everyone in whatever class project we had going on at the moment. No one had had a bad word for him, except for the football coach, and even then it was full of regret.


“That kid is built like a Mack truck, but he’s got instincts like a teddy bear made from marshmallow,” Coach Freeman had said.

If being “too nice” is an automatic cut from a football squad, being a ‘Ferdinand’ is a plus for a pet walker. Nora is sure they can easily afford Brent and as they discover, he enjoys inhaling part of his salary (not that kind of West Coast inhale, rather treats that come in pink boxes: Voodoo Doughnuts!). Nora, Gwen, and Brent cement their business relationship over some favorites.

When we were all seated, each with fresh mug of coffee and a donut—I had a Bacon Maple Bar and Nora chose a Homer, its strawberry icing covered with candied sprinkles—I nodded at Brent.


“Okay, let’s hear it. What did you learn last night?”


Brent took a big bite from his Grape Ape donut. “Well, she told me that—”


“Hold up there.” Nora held up one hand. “Swallow the donut first, please. I really don’t want to see a train wreck in a tunnel.”

Gwen’s former student mafia includes Rachel, now a journalist who can access the details of Linda Fletcher’s post-mortem. Turns out Linda died from poison, not stab wounds. Nora is off the hook—but who killed Linda?

Doggone Dead is a great premiere to a new cozy series: its characters are original and evolving, and the Portland location is played up beautifully (omnipresent misty rain/coffee shops/glorious mountains—the town is a character). I’m looking forward to learning more about Gwen’s infallible teacher-techniques, and seeing how she channels Miss Marple as she solves crimes with Nora, her sassy, irrepressible side-kick. Doggone Dead will whet readers’ appetite for The 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries sophomore offering, Cat’s Meow in 2021.
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A good start for a new cozy series! It's engrossing and fun to read, a fast and highly enjoyable read.
I liked the quirky and well thought characters, the setting and the solid mystery that kept me guessing.
I look forward to reading the next installment, recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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This is a cute cozy mystery novel that has two best gal pals trying to solve a Murder while starting a pet valet service.  I like the fact that the gals are of a certain age where they should be thinking about retirement but turn towards adventure instead. Though the premise is interesting, I did have some difficulty with the flow of the story. It took me a while to get into it  It’s just took a little too long in my opinion to get to some of the points. Overall an average cozy mystery that I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy.
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Doggone Dead, the first book in the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery series, by Dane McCaslin is a total hit !!  Readers will not be able to put this book down once they start reading it.  The characters, the setting, and everything else will capture your attention and you will be powerless against the force.

In Doggone Dead Gwen Franklin has just retired from her job of teaching high school kids and is looking forward to staying up late reading in bed, sleeping in without the alarm clock waking her up, not having to deal with bratty students and just hanging around her house and yard.  Unfortunately her best friend Nora Goldstein has other plans for the two of them !!

In Nora's apartment building and across the street at the dog walking park there are a lot of dogs..... Nora decides that her and Gwen should start a dog walking and pet sitting service and when one of Gwen's students, Brent, is her Uber driver on the way to Nora's, he ends up being a part of the business.  While they are getting the word out to all the residents in Nora's apartment, Nora's neighbor ends up in Nora's kitchen.....dead !!  Sadly the killer could have been anyone because no one locks their apartment doors when they are going on a quick errand.  While the two friends who feel like sisters try to figure out if Linda was the intended target or if it actually could have been Nora seeing as it was Nora's apartment, Nora's many step-children begin to appear.  Nora has quite a few ex-husbands who left her well off financially however the step-children disapprove.  Would one of them be willing to kill her to get at her money ??  Or it could be someone pretty much standing right in front of them and they don't even know it.  Can they figure it out in time ??

I think that The 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery series is going to be one of my favorite series.  This is definitely going to be a series that I will be keeping an eye out for.  I love the main characters and their relationship.  Their friendship is one that we can all wish for !!  And the "trouble" that Nora gets into and Gwen has to help get her out of will have readers laughing out loud.  Even the murder and the way they go about solving it is quite entertaining !!  And the way that Gwen reverts to her teaching methods throughout the story only makes it better.  McCaslin really sets the stage perfectly in Doggone Dead ..... I cannot wait for the next book to see where the adventure takes the ladies......
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I volunteered to read this book, through netgalley in exchange, for an honest review. This book is well written and the characters are described well. I enjoyed Gwen and Nora’s characters along with Brent's character. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out who did it. It is the first book in this series. What a twist in the end. I definitely recommend this mystery book to anyone and everyone.  This book is in stores now so go get it and find out who did it.  I can't wait to read more books by this author in the future.
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I liked the basic idea of this story, and Gwen was a likable enough character, but I wasn't impressed with her rich friend Nora who seemed to go through business ideas like she'd gone through husbands. They were actually pretty funny sleuthing together, but I think I liked Brent more. He was a goofy and hilarious at times (even if he didn't mean to be), but he was a faithful worker and seemed super sweet. Shelby, the reporter was a good character too, and I hope she returns. I just wish I had liked the retired duo better. Brent and his girlfriend did a pretty decent job of sleuthing.

The story just seemed very disjointed in places, and to me, the killer was pretty easy to guess. I did enjoy the showdown and ending. I always love it when a killer gets outsmarted!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.
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This book was kind of hard to follow for me, since it was a new-to-me author, but it was a fun read. Loved all the dogs that got added to the mix.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Lyrical Press for the review copy of this book. I was interested in this book because of another book I have read by this author. I also found the set-up intriguing. Newly retired English teacher, Gwen, gets roped into a pet valet service by her best friend, Nora, who is as close to a sister as Gwen will have. Joining them is Gwen’s former student Brent. Shortly after creating their business, Gwen and Nora return to Nora’s apartment to find her snooty neighbor dead on the kitchen floor. 

Gwen and Nora soon find themselves entrenched in a murder investigation, mistaken identity, and good old fashioned family drama. 

I found this novel very entertaining. It is nice and short, and the pet situations these two ladies find themselves in are quite humorous.  My only complaint with this cozy mystery is that the murder is solved quite quickly at the end of the book. However, I barely noticed that was happening because I was so entertained by the animal high jinx. Animal lovers will love this book! I would give it a solid 4 1/2 stars!
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Doggone Dead is the first book in a new cozy mystery series featuring best friends, and ladies of a certain age, Nora and Gwen.

You have to love a cozy mystery that gets to the point quickly. In chapter one, we meet Gwen trying to sleep late on her first day of retirement from her job teaching English to high schoolers. Next, we meet her best friend, Nora, who is well off after a series of marriages—and divorces. Nora previously started a business pet walking. She wants Gwen to become her partner in the newly renamed Two Sisters Pet Valet Services. After working her apartment building and the park across the street, Nora and Gwen have four new clients. When they return to Nora’s apartment, tired but happy, they find Nora’s hated neighbor, Linda, dead in the kitchen with a large knife protruding from her chest.

When Nora receives an anonymous letter accusing her of being a gold digger, she immediately suspects her ex-husbands and her step-children. And there are a lot of both.

Doggone Dead has retirement, friendship, cute fuzzy dogs, and one cantankerous parrot. It is a fun read. 3 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Doggone Dead by Dane McCaslin is the 1st book in The 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries series, and a delightful start.  My favorite cozy mysteries are this ones that make me laugh, and this one sure did the trick.  I enjoy the two main characters, 2 sisters, are in their 50's, one a retired high school teacher, the other one is rich, and they have been best friends for years.  I found this book to be fast-paced, I read it in one day.  The characters are quirky and fun.  I highly recommend this book, and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  I highly recommend this book, for a perfect escape that lifts your spirits.  
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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DOGGONE DEAD is the first book in the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery series! We meet Gwen Franklin, a recently retired teacher who gets roped into opening a business with her BFF Nora Goldstein. While planning their business, Nora’s nemesis winds up dead in Nora’s kitchen. Of course, the two besties try to find the murderer, but not without help. 

This cozy felt very uncozy-like sometimes. Most cozies center around the business/theme and such, but this one not so much. The two main characters start a pet business, but neither want to actually pick up after the animals? Very weird. 

I enjoyed many of the characters, most of them coming off as amusing and interesting. I also really liked the friendship between Gwen and Nora, and I liked their personalities too. They’re very different from each other, but their differences bring them together. They did sort of come off as bullies to me sometimes when they made fun of poor Brent. I mean making fun of someone once is okay, but over three times just makes you look bad. Brent really stole the show for me! He’s such a sweetheart and definitely my favorite character! 

The mystery itself was very good! It flowed very well, and the pacing was great. It was predictable at times, but the ending was very satisfying. I enjoyed it. 

Overall, this book does have its flaws, but it’s still a solid read. I’ll be reading the next book in the series.
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Gwen Franklin had just retired from her life as a high school teacher and was looking forward to sleeping in, drinking coffee and reading her Agatha Christie mysteries. But her best friend Nora Goldstein had other ideas – a pet walking business was the way to go. It didn’t matter that Gwen was allergic to animals, or Nora’s stiletto heels weren’t designed for walking. But when their neighbour, Linda Fletcher, was discovered murdered in Nora’s kitchen, and the police took Nora in for questioning, Gwen knew it was up to her to find the killer.

I’m sorry to say that Doggone Dead was terrible! Two ditzy women who did nothing but rant and rave about everything and nothing; ex-husbands (all Nora’s), step-children who were intimidated by Nora – I could go on! It took me days to read, I skimmed a lot, made it to the end but nothing about the writing or the characters had changed! I apologise to the author, Dane McCaslin but cannot recommend and won’t be reading any more in the series.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Pet Walkers and Mystery Solvers 
This is the 'first in series' book of a new, very fun cozy mystery series. The story takes place in Portland. Two life-long retirement age friends start a pet walking business and wind-up in the middle of murder investigations. It is very funny and witty. Besides the client dogs, they end up adopting homeless dogs. It is a cute story that is quite the page-turner. I can't wait to read the next book.  I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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Gwen's just retired from teaching and her friend Nora ropes her into working with her in a new pet sitting and walking service.  Here's the thing- Gwen's allergic to dander and neither one of them wants to pick up after the dogs.  That's solved, sort of, when they hire Brent to do the actual work.  Then Linda is found dead on the floor of Nora's apartment with a knife in her chest.  Of course, Nora's going to be a suspect but there's more than one person who didn't like Linda so Gwen works the case .  It's always tough to judge the first installment in a new series but I'll be honest- this one would have benefited from a little more polishing. Nora's a pain, the business doesn't make sense under the circumstances, and there are plot holes.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Here's hoping there's another better cozy coming.
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Was anyone else bothered by the way former teacher, Gwen Franklin, is portrayed as someone who makes fun of a former student behind his back and also to his face? I can't say I liked this character; although, I would have if not for that. Her best friend and current business partner, Mora Goldstein comes across as very controlling, and a bit annoying too.

This was a did-not-finish book for me because of all the snarky comments.
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