Cover Image: Fifty-Four Pigs

Fifty-Four Pigs

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

This first 'Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery' is set in a frosty Canadian town in mid-winter. It features murder, theft, and a good sniffer dog.


Dr. Peter Bannerman, a veterinarian in the lakeside town of New Selfoss, Manitoba, is appalled when he sees the pig barn of his friend and neighbor, Tom Pearson, go up in flames. Hog farmer Tom kept his fifty-four pigs in the barn, and all are lost in the conflagration. When investigators examine the burnt structure, though, they find fifty-five bodies, one of them being a man. The human victim - whose identity is unknown - was shot before the fire started. and Tom becomes a suspect in the man's murder.

Veterinarian Peter, who has an analytical mind, likes to solve mysteries. Moreover, Peter is convinced his friend Tom is innocent, and he means to prove it. This puts Peter at odds with his brother-in-law Kevin, an RCMP officer in charge of the murder inquiry, who doesn't want Peter's 'help'.

Though Tom's property is a crime scene, and off-limits to civilians, Peter takes his dog Pippin - who's good at sniffing out clues - to examine the area. Peter even finds a scrap of paper, with Korean writing, which he withholds from the police. Officer Kevin is furious when he learns about this, but - realizing Peter will stick his nose into the investigation no matter what - the RCMP detective agrees to share information.

Meanwhile, other crimes are occurring in New Selfoss. There's another murder and there are a series of burglaries in which meat is stolen from freezers around town. Peter thinks all the criminal activity is connected, and he racks his brain to figure out what's going on. This eventually leads to an exciting denouement.

As the story unfolds we learn about the Icelandic origin of many residents of New Selfoss, and we're told how Peter wooed and won his wife Laura. Peter and Laura live with their dog Pippin and cat Merry, and Laura knits and sells sweaters and accessories inspired by movies and television shows likes Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc. Peter also goes about his veterinarian job, which ranges from dog and cat check-ups to a goat caesarian.

The book's characters are interesting and the ambiance of wintry New Selfoss is well-depicted, with a frozen lake, ice-fishing shacks, snow mounds, residents using skis to get around, and so on.

This is a fun cozy mystery that would probably appeal to fans of the genre.

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This was a light-hearted and enjoyable book filled with mystery and an interesting conclusion. I enjoyed meeting Pippin and her owner, and their adventures sniffing out clues were fun.

While I think that the characters in this book are almost too perfect, however, that does not take away from the charm of the book.

Definitely enjoyable, and I shall be seeking out the next in the series.

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definitely kept me entertained - not what I was expecting but delighted to have discovered this one!

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A Canadian Cozy mystery. Dr Peter Bannerman is an unusual character, he has a particular outlook on life and likes logic. When the barn of his friend and neighbour Tom explodes Peter is first on the scene and his interest is piqued, but looking into this further leads him into unexpected danger. An easy listen.

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I really was not sure where we were headed or what I was going to get w/this title! I like to go into a book w/out really reading the blurb I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Love me a good Canadian cozy mystery! This vet is a menace to his own safety b/c he just has to keep all the important details to himself. It's a wonder his BIL doesn't murder him for all his shenanigans and having to save his life time and time again! But I am here for it! I liked most of the characters and the writing so I will definitely be reading more of this series!


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Dr Peter Bannerman, a veterinarian in a small town on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, is out making a visit to a bovine patient when he hears an explosion at his friend Tom’s nearby piggery. Arriving at the property, he sees that the pig barn, along with all 54 pigs is on fire and there is nothing he can do to save them. Peter’s brother in law Kevin, an RCMP officer is in charge of the investigation and when a human body is found amongst the remains of the pigs, Tom becomes his number one suspect, especially after Tom disappears.

Peter has known Tom since high school when he used to protect him from bullying and considers him a friend. He doesn’t believe Tom could murder anyone, let alone kill his pigs to cover it up. Since Peter is good at solving mysteries and puzzles he decides to help clear his name by following up his own hunches with the help of his dog Pippin who he has trained to pick up scents. He has to be secretive about what he is doing as both his wife and Kevin know he can become obsessed with solving mysteries and warn him he’ll be in danger if he meddles too much.

Once I got used to the narrator’s style, I really enjoyed this audiobook. Peter is a quirky character, who loves logic and facts, tea brewed for exact amounts of time (depending on the type, of course), LOTR (his pets are all named after characters), walking to work, even in winter when it’s -25C. He has a comfortable life with his wife, who has a successful knitting business making garments for movie fans featuring LOTR, Starwars, Harry Potter and Pokémon characters.

Peter's veterinary practice is also full of interesting and amusing characters, both animal and human, and forms a delightful backdrop to the murder mystery. It was also interesting to learn about the Icelandic history of the area and details of how people live in such a cold climate. Peter does manage to get himself into quite a lot of trouble before the case is solved during an exciting climax during a blizzard. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of his exploits in his next mystery.

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Set in the small rural town of New Selfoss in Canada, this is the first in a new series featuring vet Peter Bannerman. Peter is driving to a call out when he spots his friend Tom’s barn on fire. All fifty four pigs perish (worry not, there is no awful description of this) but unbeknown to anyone at the time, there was also a human corpse left behind. The investigation falls to Tom’s Mountie brother in law, Kevin, but Tom has had a little amateur sleuthing success recently and wants to help. Kevin firmly tells him he really doesn’t need any help but that doesn’t stop Peter, especially when Tom seems to have vanished. So together with his sniffer dog Pippin, Peter starts to make enquiries of his own. Is Tom dead or maybe even on the run? And why are townsfolk having their meat stolen?
This was a nice cosy mystery with plenty of twists and a highly enjoyable plot. It took a little while to get used to the pace and style of writing, which has some nice touches of humour and great descriptions of the town and its history, but Peter really grew on me as the story unfolded. For me the real star of the show is Pippin, Peter’s collie cross dog with his amazing sense of smell, and while Peter sometimes was awkward around people, he can really interact with animals and his work with Pippin was charming. Now that I have got used to Peter and his funny little ways, I am looking forward to book 2, this time featuring Ostriches.
Peter is a quiet and reserved character, and the audiobook narrator came across the same way, quite dry at times but a great fit for Peter. 4.5*

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Eccentric Dr Bannerman is a beloved oddball who treats his patients well, looks out for his clients and stands by his friends... often to the point of his own detriment! I enjoyed this more or less medium paced mystery set in small town Canada. New Selfos is an interesting place , and I appreciated the lore behind the town. The world building and Nordic history definitely added to the charm of this book.

Peter is a character who is fastidious , meticulous and perhaps on the autism spectrum somewhere. There are sections in the book where I was pretty exasperated about his reading of people and his blind faith in this reading. He makes quite some peculiar judgement calls that are very head shake inducing, but the sections where he's interacting with his dog make up for it.

I did not feel like the clues in the book helped arrive at the logical conclusion; I was somewhat nonplussed at the explanations given. The solution comes after the action, in the form of character dialogues which was not impressive. I would have liked for clues to be given throughout the book to help solve it - most details we get in the case don't add up to much at all.

Overall: A good read, but not the best.

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3.75 stars, rounded upward.

Fifty-Four Pigs is the first in the Dr. Bannerman vet mystery series, set in a tiny town in Manitoba, Canada. My thanks go to Net Galley and ECW for the audio review copy. This book is for sale now.

Peter Bannerman is a quirky guy, a rural veterinarian with particular tastes and a fierce loyalty to his friends. When his good buddy Tom’s barn is torched in the middle of the night, killing all 54 of his pigs and leaving behind a mysterious human corpse, the Mounties want to question him, but he’s nowhere to be found. Has Tom been killed? Kidnapped? Perhaps he’s on the run, panic-stricken. Peter is eager to try out his amateur sleuthing skills on this case; Kevin, his brother-in-law as well as the local law enforcer, is equally eager that he should not. Yet, Peter is concerned that his friend, whom he knows to be a decent, peaceable soul, could never commit murder, and who surely wouldn’t harm his own pigs. If he doesn’t clear Tom’s name, who will?

This novel is a cozy mystery, despite all the dead porkers (about whom there is blessedly little detail.) It’s humorous in places, and is already building a budding fan base. I love Peter’s dogs, Merry and Pippin; the latter goes just about everywhere with him, and is helpful when push comes to shove. Some of the vet cases make me snicker out loud; I’m gardening as I listen, and hope the neighbors won’t think I’ve lost my mind, all alone and cackling in my lettuce bed.

As for me, I find the first half to be a bit on the slow side, with more extraneous details that aren’t directly relevant to the story than I would prefer. However, I usually am not a cozy mystery lover, either. The second half of the story ramps up the suspense and the intrigue, and when Bannerman heads out to the ice fishermen’s shacks with a storm in the immediate forecast, it’s impossible to put this book down.

The audio is performed by actor Miles Meili, and I find his narrative to be an acquired taste; he tends to sound wryly amused even during the serious parts of the story, and during the first half, I wish wholeheartedly for a print version to refer to. However, once the excitement begins, I can’t think about anybody except poor Peter, who’s out there in that raging storm, and so Mr. Meili’s stylized delivery no longer distracts me.

The ending is hilarious.

I recommend this book to cozy readers, and I do lean toward the print version, but if you are an audio-or-nothing reader, go ahead and get it in the form you love best.

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3.5 stars: When I saw this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. I liked the setting of Manitoba and the idea of a veterinarian being an amateur sleuth, so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed this cozy mystery. The book opens with a swine barn exploding, witnessed by Dr. Peter Bannerman. It belongs to his friend and client Tom. Found in the barn after the blast are 54 Pigs and 1 human. Who is the victim? Where is Tom? Peter decides to help prove Tom has nothing to do with the murder, so uses his logic and reasoning as well as his dog Pippin to find clues to the killer.

This was an enjoyable book. Peter is such a quirky character. He is obsessed with logic and measurable facts which serves him well in his veterinary practice as well as helping solve the mystery. Pippin is a great canine companion, with great sniffing prowess. Peter is happily married, with a wife who has her own knitting business. Her brother is the local RCMP officer, who wants Peter to be careful and not take chances. His wife agrees with her brother. He does take some chances, not always realizing he is in danger. I loved the chilly, atmospheric setting of a small community along a lake in Manitoba. I will say there were some slow parts to the story, but overall, it was an enjoyable mystery. Miles Meili narrates this story and does a good job. As it is told by a male POV, the choice of performer worked well.

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When veterinarian Peter Bannerman woke up to find his friend Tom’s barn up in flames, he was worried about not just his friend but also his 54 pigs. Sadly, the pigs did not make it, but more importantly, there was an extra set of bones in the barn. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Mounties) found a human skull, with a bullet hole in it. So the fire wasn’t an accident. It was murder and a cover-up.

This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen in their small town of New Selfoss in Manitoba.

Peter is not an investigator, but he can’t help but want to solve the puzzle of what happened and why. This is a quality that makes him a good vet, researching until he finds out what’s wrong with a pet and then finding out the best way to cure the problem. Tom is his friend. Peter has been looking after the health of Tom’s pigs, and now he wants to make sure that Tom is okay and try to figure out who set his barn on fire.

Peter is married to Laura, whose brother Kevin is an investigator with the Mounties, so Kevin can keep Peter informed of what’s going on in the investigation. But when Peter’s home is broken into, his wife and her brother both think that he should back off from the investigation. But Peter finds that he just can’t. He keeps looking into what is happening, trying to make sense of what he finds.

When their house had been broken into, the thieves got away with a television set, some jewelry, and some pork shoulders that he’d been keeping in his deep freeze for Tom. But they had dumped the tv and the jewelry not too far from the house, where another resident of their small town finds them. The pork, however, is not to be found.

Between taking care of the area’s pets and farm animals, listening to local gossip, and training his dog Pippin as a scent dog, Peter stays busy. But he’s not too busy to keep investigating. And when he finds himself in grave danger because he can’t stop himself, will he still be able to find a way back home?

Fifty-Four Pigs is a murder mystery written with style and substance. Dr. Peter Bannerman is a smart vet with some clear neurodivergence. Called an odd duck, Peter has a good heart and tries his best to be kind to others, but he struggles to understand the darkness in people, perhaps a reason why he can’t stop himself from digging into dangerous secrets.

This is the first in a new series by Philipp Schott, also a veterinarian who grew up in Canada. His writing style is gentle and intelligent, giving readers a chance to step into the thoughts of someone who thinks differently.

I got to listen to Fifty-Four Pigs on audio, narrated by Miles Meili. I thought that he did an exceptional job with this story, emphasizing both the gentle intelligence of Peter and the growing danger that he found himself in. I did struggle some with this book. It was difficult to reconcile the gentleness of the investigators with the brutality of the crimes, but I loved the characters and I thought that the plotting showed a great deal of creativity. The audio book ended with a preview of the next book, and I’m already hooked and waiting for it to come my way, so if you’re wondering if I recommend this series, know that I do.

An early copy of the audio book for Fifty-Four Pigs was provided by ECW Press Audio through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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Set in a quaint Canadian town. A pig barn explosion leads to the discovery of a human caught in the blast.

A cosy murder mystery with Peter - The vet/ amateur sleuth as the protagonist and his dog Pippin who is a talented sniffer dog. An enjoyable listen with endearing characters.

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This was a very good beginning for a new series and I look forward to the next book. I thought the main character was more than just socially awkward but possibly on the Autism Spectrum. I loved all the animals in the story.
The narrator was good for this book too.
Just a note to the author, in Texas we say “all hat, no cattle.”

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Fifty-four Pigs was mostly easy to read, like the tags on fourteen well-labeled dog collars, but the plot was only as enjoyable as about eight of those dogs. The other six dogs were slow moving but with sudden bursts of extreme activity that were at times frustrating and hard to keep track of… But even so, you’re still spending the day hanging out with fourteen dogs, so it’s impossible to be too unhappy about it.

Unfortunately I happened to read the author’s blurb, which made the novel seem more self indulgent than thirty-seven male peacocks, and ultimately lowered the enjoyment factor from four gold sea stars to three gold sea stars.

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Thank you Netgalley for this audio edition of Fifty-Four Pigs by Phillip Schott.

Peter is a socially awkward, yet well known and like veterinarian in small Canadian town. But his normally quiet job is interrupted when a local barn explodes, killing fifty four swine. But even more than that, a human jawbone is left behind. Not being one to miss an opportunity to use logic and intelligence to good use, Peter dives right into this local mystery, despite being told repeatedly to stay out. But is Peter going to get to close to the proverbial fire burning in his hometown?

I liked the quirky backdrop of this story, the chilly little town, the animals as characters of the story. But otherwise this was a bit dry. I struggled throughout the whole story to stay involved and invested. Especially towards the end, it really lost me.

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'Fifty-Four Pigs' opens with a dramatic explosion in a pig barn that breaks the peace of a rural Canadian town in winter. Local vet, Peter, is first on the scene but no one can save the 54 porkers trapped inside. Peter enjoys amateur sleuthing, and as the barn belongs to his old schoolfriend Tom, he is keen to find out what happened. When human remains are found in the burnt out barn, his brother-in-law - a policeman - warns him to stop playing detective. But Peter cannot resist continuing to investigate, especially as a series of further crimes of escalating seriousness affect the town. Peter's sure they must be connected, but his efforts to find out the link might lead him into danger...

Fans of so called 'cosy' crime will love this. Peter is a likeable protagonist, and the other characters are good too. I particularly loved the dog, Pippin, and the description of the relationship between Peter and his dog is one that any dog owner will enjoy. The plot is robust and not as ridiculous as you usually get in this type of novel, and doesn't rely much on coincidence or implausible happenings. I didn't work out what was happening and the underlying mystery was quite original.

The Canadian setting is a nice change and the little insights into the life of a vet and the animals are also nice touches (I believe the author is a vet himself). The pace is at times a bit too slow, which I know is to emphasise the ordinariness of Peter and his life, but could probably have been dialled back a bit. I don't necessarily need to know the details of every cup of tea Peter made or every item his wife knitted. But that's a minor gripe and didn't stop me enjoying the book.

The narrator is male with a North American (I presume Canadian, but I'm not able to tell) accent, and I slightly rough voice. He is able to give the characters distinctive enough voices to tell them apart when speaking, and reads at a good pace with clear diction.

Anyone who enjoys mystery and crime novels, especially those that are not of the gritty police-procedural variety, should enjoy this novel. It appears to be the first in a series and I'll certainly be keen to read/listen to the next one.

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Fifty-Four Pigs is the first Dr. Bannerman veterinary mystery by Dr. Philipp Schott. Released 19th April 2022 by ECW Press, it's 256 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

This fictive amateur sleuth mystery debut by real-life veterinarian Philipp Schott features a fictional problem solver who is also a veterinarian alongside his trusty canine sidekick Pippin, a husky/lab/border collie mix with a gifted sense of smell and an unusually high degree of intelligence to go with it. Dr. Bannerman struck me as an odd guy, generally likeable but also stubborn and often pedantic. I appreciated the nerdy culture references which the author wrote into the story, and it's cool that his wife is a nerdy fibre artist and knitting designer.

The book is well plotted and moves along at a good clip; definitely action driven and engaging. Unusually in this case, the characterisations are above average and believably rendered. There were a few places in the book where the dialogue didn't ring true for me at all, but all in all, well written and enjoyably readable. The overarching mystery is heavily foreshadowed and not a surprise, but there were motivations and hidden aspects which definitely surprised me. The climax, denouement, and resolution had a bit too much deus-ex-machina to be entirely satisfying, but overall I enjoyed it very much.

It's not really a cozy mystery at all and shares more in common with modern medical thrillers than "James Herriot". The author is clearly familiar with rural Manitoba and he does a great job describing the weather, the area, and the history of the place. There is some on-page violence as well as some mildly graphic descriptions of blood and fire/explosion damage to a skeleton. Language and dialogue are R-rated with some casual f-bombs scattered around.

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 7 hours and 2 minutes and is capably narrated by Miles Meili. He has a rugged and rough-edged baritone which suits the dialogue very well. Sound and production quality are high throughout the recording.

Four stars. Very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for Peter, Laura, and Pippin (&co).

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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I was drawn to this book by the title and I decided that I would listen to it rather than read it. It rolls along with good characters and many humorous moments. I definitely think that Kevin has all the best lines!
It is a cohesive book and really brings you into the setting of the story.
It was an enjoyable listen with a satisfying ending, I am looking forward to Philipp Schott’s next book.

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I love a good mystery and this one totally kept my interest. The setting in a small town in Manitoba, Canada was intriguing, as was the mystery itself. The main character, Peter Bannerman, is the local veterinarian, and he is a bit quirky, which made for some fun observations on his part. He is very particular about how he brews his tea, for example. And I learned a fun fact: the half-life of caffeine is 12 hours. Who knew?

The descriptions of the townspeople were wonderful and the town itself was more or less a character in the story. The story takes place in the winter and I had to smile at the notion of it not being very cold as -10 degrees C! It’s all relative, I suppose. Even though I guessed part of the mystery, I definitely did not guess all of the details. And I wanted to see if I was correct! I do wish Peter hadn’t put himself in such danger at one point, however. Pippin, his dog, has a great sense of smell and helped Peter in his investigations.

I bounced between the audiobook and the ebook for this title, which was very convenient. Miles Meili narrates the audiobook and does an excellent job with the many voices.

I am looking forward to reading more of Peter Bannerman’s adventures!

Thank you to ECW Press for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book and to ECW Press Audio and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook. All opinions are my own.

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This was my first Phillipp Schott book. Fifty-Four Pigs is a Dr. Bannerman vet mystery. It is a part of a book series but you do not have to read them in order. I like that this was a quick read and entertaining in a simple way. I also enjoyed the exposure of Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Swedish culture although this book is based in Manitoba, Canada. The author is very knowledgeable and made me want to learn more about the people in these countries.

Fifity-Four pigs is about a veterinarian, Peter Bannerman, that has a part time sleuthing hobby. The story starts out with a death. While Peter is at his home, he notices a fire break out on his friend Tom's property. He immediately calls it in. His brother-in-law, Kevin, gets the notification and goes to investigate to find a dead body and Fifty-Four dead pigs. The investigation starts off as normal, until small burglaries start occurring in the neighborhood. Peter's house is broken into, and the strange thing is not only did they take jewelry and a tv but they also steal the pig ribs that he was storing for his friend Tom. And then another local from New Selfoss a small town in Manitoba resident's house is broken into. Peter has a knack for getting involved in all investigations in New Selfoss so of course, he wants to help especially when his friend Tom goes missing and another murder occurs. This of course is to the chagrin of his wife Laura because he finds trouble easily and does not always read people or their intentions properly. To help Peter with his investigation he has a trusty side kick, his great sniffing dog, Pippin. Peter has trained his dog to be able to sniff out blood, food and people.

As more pig ribs, are stolen from properties and mounting deaths Peter is hot on the trail. We learn that Tom is a person of interest in the murder investigation. Tom's ex-wife starts to tell Peter stories and rumors about his friend which of course fuels his investigation to clear Tom's name. When Peter's vet clinic is broken into and the thief cut themselves and bled in the clinic, he gets a hunch and has Pippin use his awesome nose to find the blood scent. Pippin finds a missing note in the fields behind Tom's house from the blood scent. Peter finds that there is Korean writing on the note. Of course, Kevin, is giving him information in hopes that Peter will no longer continue his own investigation. This does not stop Peter and he gets in over his head once he has figured out the final standdown begins.

The big mystery is solved, Peter is saved from danger, and we learn if Tom was really involved. And we are given a preview of the next book in the series called Six Ostriches.

A few things I liked about this book. Among them are the quirky personality of Peter. This character is so doggone smart, too smart for his own good. He is able to look at the mysteries of this investigation and many other aspects of life differently, but easily finds trouble. I also liked that the animals are humanized in some ways, we can imagine what they are thinking and feeling. I think this was a cozy mystery and a fun read. It was a nice break from intense thrillers. Yes, there was a bit of gore, but it was not intense.

I was able to enjoy this book as an ARC copy from NetGalley. I truly appreciate being able to review this book. I would recommend this book for people that like simple mysteries and want a change of pace from psychological thrillers. It was a quick read and gives the opportunity to learn about Canada and its settlers.

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