White Shepherd, The

A dog mystery set in Oxford

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Pub Date 01 Oct 2015 | Archive Date 06 Sep 2015
Severn House, Severn House Publishers


First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton.

Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the victim previously. Naomi Evans was a professional researcher who had told Anna she was working on a book about a famous Welsh poet, and who offered to help Anna trace Bonnie’s original owner.

From her conversations with Naomi, Anna is convinced that she was not the random victim of a psychopathic serial killer, as the police believe. She was targeted because of what she knew. With the official investigation heading in the wrong direction entirely, Anna teams up with fellow dogwalkers Isadora Salzman and Tansy Lavelle to discover the truth.
First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton.

Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow...

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We will consider requests from established reviewers, Acquisition and Collection Development Public Librarians and booksellers in the UK and USA.

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ISBN 9780727885210
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Featured Reviews

Anna Hopkins and her white shepherd Bonnie are on their morning stroll through an Oxford meadow on a fine morning when Bonnie sniffs out a bloody corpse in the bushes. If that weren’t horrifying enough, Anna knows the woman. She was working on an upcoming book about a Welsh poet, and her research was leading in an unlikely direction. She had even offered to help track down Bonnie’s original owner. Now she’s dead. The victim, police say of a random, violent act. Anna doesn’t buy it and enlists the help of fellow dog walkers Isadora and Tansy to find the real killer. I was thrilled to read this is the first in a new series. I really like Anna but I love Bonnie!

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First book in the series, you can't go wrong with murder and dogs. Provided of course the dogs aren't murdered...spoiler alert...they aren't.

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The White Shepherd -- Annie Dalton
The white shepherd from the title is Bonnie, the canine companion of Anna Hopkins, a dog walker.
Bonnie finds a bloody body during a walk with Anna through a meadow in Oxford, England.
The body belongs to Naomi Evans, who was researching a Welsh poet.
The police believe Naomi was the victim of a serial killer, but Anna isn't convinced. Along with dog walker colleagues Isadora Salzman and Tansy Lavelle, she sets of to bring the murderer to justice.
A big dog lover myself, I enjoyed the way in which Annie Dalton uses dogs to drive the plot.
Dalton is masterful at setting the horror of the murder against the backdrop of the beauty of Oxford.
From what I understand The White Shepherd is the first in a series with Anna Hopkins, dog walker, as the lead.
I look forward to the next book

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A truly unforgettable book. Anna Hopkins is the sole survivor of the massacre of her family and since then has had trouble relating to people. She meets Naomi Evans, bonding over her white shepherd Bonnie, but the morning they are to meet for breakfast Naomi does not show up. when Anna takes Bonnie for a walk in the park she finds Naomi's body. Two women, Tansy and Isabelle are also in the park and bond over finding Naomi. The police think Naomi is the victim of a serial killer but the three women disagree and decide to find out more about Naomi's life. They come to link her death to the story of a famous poet and information about his life that his family wants to keep hidden. This is a book that will keep you up all night until you reach the end - I highly recommend it.

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The White Shepherd is a superb thriller, set against the picturesque backdrop of Oxford. Unlike the majority of Annie Dalton’s novels, The White Shepherd is written for adult lovers of mystery and suspense (and dog lovers).

Anna Hopkins is a woman haunted by past tragedy. Her sole close companion is her beloved white German Shepherd, Bonnie. It comes as a shock when Bonnie discovers the mutilated body of a young woman in the park, a researcher Anna had met previously. Two other dog-walkers arrive at the same time Anna does, and the three form a friendship.

As it becomes clear that the police are looking in the wrong direction and are uninterested in Anna’s suspicions, she takes it on herself to discover the truth with Isadora and Tansy. Was Naomi the victim of a serial killer, or was her death linked to the research she was doing on a famous Oxford poet and his family? As Anna probes for the truth, she begins to open up again and start trusting. But will she trust the wrong person?

The White Shepherd is as much about Anna’s rediscovery of herself as it is a murder mystery. Dalton’s novel is a fine example of character driven mystery, filled with unique, well developed individuals. The beauty and distinct culture of Oxford is a wonderful setting. The White Shepherd is a wonderful choice for dog lovers and mystery lovers alike. I look forward to reading more mysteries featuring Anna Hopkins and Bonnie.


The White Shepherd is the first in the Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series. The novel is available for preorder and will be released October 1, 2015

I received a copy of The White Shepherd from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.


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My rating: 4 stars

If you enjoy mysteries that are very detailed and don't leave out any possible lead or suspect, then this book will be exactly what you are looking for. I kind of expected a flat, one dimensional cozy mystery when I picked this up, and was delighted to find that wasn't the case.

The author took great care with her character building, using a familiar setting and really taking time with her descriptions. You would be hard pressed to figure out the mystery early on in this novel, since she also waits to let the plot unfold a bit before revealing many clues.

I found this book to be well paced and interesting and am looking forward to reading more of this author's work. The only thing that bothered me, is that if it is supposed to be a dog walking mystery--perhaps the dogs could have played a slightly larger role than just being companions for much of the story.

Overall, I thought this was really good. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy the whodunnit.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Anna Hopley suffered a life-changing - well, closer to a life-ruining - trauma when she lost her entire family. Those past horrors have made her an isolated individual, with only her rescue dog, Bonnie, a White Shepherd, to keep her company. But one day, she finds her life colliding with two other dog owners, the older Isadora and the younger Tansy - neither of them have much in common except for one thing. They were together when they found a dead body in the park - the body of a young woman, Naomi, who Anna had been working with.
The crime is ascribed to the so-called "Oxford Ripper" but Anna is not convinced. Naomi was researching a number of issues - the life of a recently republished poet, the original owner of Bonnie and more besides. Could one of this have caused her death? With the police seemingly satisfied the case is closed, Anna and "the dog-walking Charlie's Angels" find themselves on the trail of a clever - and ruthless - murderer.
Actually, it's by Annie Dalton and her daughter Marie, but only Annie makes it to the front cover. Possibly as Annie Dalton has already written several books by herself but this is her first foray into crime.
It can be hard to balance character and plot. I rarely have difficulty with books that lean towards the plot in lieu of character, but when it's the other way round, then it depends.
I think it's fair to say that this one leans towards characterisation. There is a reasonably complex plot, but part of it (not all of it, let's be clear) was very obvious to me. But I really didn't care, because I was completely absorbed by the tale. It's rare to find a character like Annie who has major personal issues but still comes across as a likeable and interesting person. Of course in crime fiction, more often than not, the hero's issues are self-inflicted, and that's certainly not the case here. It's the tale of a woman coming to terms with what has happened to her in the past and moving forward with her life. And if that sounds like it's not your thing - guess what? I didn't think it would be my thing either, but I couldn't put the book down.
And this extends to Isadora and Tansy as well - both very different characters, but the three leads fit together perfectly. It may be loneliness that draws them together initially but the blossoming friendship is really well done.
And while, as I said, part of the plot was not desperately surprising, there is more going on than first appears, and I was caught out by part of it, possibly because I was basking in my own cleverness at thinking that I'd got it all sussed. Silly me.
So, all in all, a very complete mystery novel. Possibly not a fair-play well-clued mystery, but a noticeable step above the average cosy. Very well written and it gripped me from beginning to end. Highly Recommended.
This copy was provided by the publishers Severn House to review.

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Anna Hopkins is walking her dog in the park. When Bonnie takes off and begins to whine, she runs after her to see what the dog has found. It's a dead woman...

Severn House and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It will be published October 1st.

The dead woman was the one Anna was waiting to meet. She said she had some real exciting information to share with her. What could that have been? Two other dog walkers come to join her and they all wait for the police. Since Anna can identify her, it isn't long before the body is moved. Everyone needs to go the station and give them a statement. That chills Anna.

Anna has had tragedy in her life. She came home after being out as a teenager and found her family dead. She even got attacked herself. Somehow, the cops viewed her as a suspect for a while. No one wanted to have anything to do with her. The same inspector is the one talking to her today. That doesn't make it easier.

One thing that begins after this murder is friendship. Anna hasn't had a friend in years. She's not sure she wants these ladies in her life. They do have a connection, though, because of the murder.

Anna has two men in her life. I had my suspicions about one of them from the get go, but Anna doesn't. I preferred the guy who had previously owned her rescue dog, even if he lived across the pond.

This was a good story. Bonnie is a good dog and protects those loves. Anna is beginning to get her life back. She's even talking about the old tragedy, which she'd never done before. I enjoyed this book and hope to find more books in this series.

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Review online - link below.

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Walking a dog leads to discovering a murder

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Having recently become the owner of rescue dog Bonnie, a white German Shepherd dog, Anna a woman with a troubled past has discovered that walking a dog can be a very sociable experience and on her daily walks in Port Meadow has become on talking terms with a number of people

Her past comes back to meet her with a bang when one morning her dog, discovers a body, Anna is dismayed to find that the body is that of Naomi a young woman she had more than a passing acquaintance with.

Soon joined by two of her daily dog-walking acquaintances, Tansy and Isadora the three women find themselves at the scene of yet another attack by the so-called Oxford Ripper - but they're not convinced and finding themselves becoming friends, bonded by the events of that morning and start some investigating of their own.

What I loved about this novel was the characterisation - 3 totally different characters all of who were very different, from different backgrounds and described in a way that made them likeable and realistic

A great read that held my attention from the start right through to the nail-biting climax. Highly recommended! And definitely one for the dog lovers!

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"The White Shepherd" is a suspense novel set in Oxford, England. The author did an awesome job of making it clear why the characters acted as they did. Anna isn't always a nice person. She's still struggling after a tragedy in her past and has trouble making friendships. I still cared what happened to her because I could see her struggling between her wants and her fears.

The author gave glimpses into the complex motives of even minor characters. Awesome dog, too. Ironically, it's the death of Naomi--a woman whom Anna thought might become a friend--that is a catalyst for Anna finally making some strong friendships.

Anna and her friends followed up on each new clue as to who killed Naomi, ran into false leads, and tried again. People unexpectedly died or went missing...but is it murder or something less sinister? I had a fair idea of whodunit and why about halfway through so I was not surprised by what Anna finally discovered. However, the author kept me firmly pulled into the story until the end because I wanted to know what happened with the characters.

The crime scenes were not described in a graphic, gory way, but they still felt vivid because of how the people viewing the scene reacted to it. There was no sex, mainly because Anna cannot let herself be vulnerable enough around others to allow such intimate contact. There was a fair amount of bad language of all kinds. The mystery that started with Naomi's death is wrapped up by the end, but the story did end with a "cliff hanger" of an unexplained but important Google alert going off. Overall, I'd recommend this complex suspense novel.

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This was my first book by Annie Dalton and I really enjoyed it. I loved the echo of the crime with Anna's past and the way she lowly opened up with the other dog walkers, through the book.

Loved Bonnie, the White Shepherd of the title, and how Anna and Bonnie learn to relate to each other. I thought the introduction of Bonnie's previous owner was a stroke of genius. This meant we were not only trying to work out who was the killer, but also who was the romantic lead with Anna.

Great read and highly recommended. Although I feel £17.99 is an exorbitant price for a kindle book!

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Award-winning author Annie Dalton is best known for her popular children’s and YA novels that include the very popular Agent Angel a.k.a. Angel Academy YA series. Luckily for us she’s decided to branch out into adult fiction with a new mystery series based on a dog walker in Oxford, Anna Hopkins. The White Shepherd is Book #1 in that series and, if it’s any example of what’s to come, I think she’s got a winner on her hands. Now I must admit that I’ve loved dogs (and pretty much all animals) since I was a toddler so I may be just a tad biased when it comes to novels that feature dog characters. But even without the dog, I’d like this mystery and its realistic main character. See what you think…

Thirty-two-year-old Anna Hopkins and her rescued white German Shepherd, Bonnie, love their daily walks through Oxford’s beautiful Port Meadow park. It’s particularly lovely on crisp Fall days. Unfortunately today’s walk takes a nasty turn when Bonnie discovers a dead body, and not just any dead body. Finding any dead body would be a shock but finding someone you know is much worse. You see, Anna had recently met with Naomi Evans, a literary researcher who had offered to try to find Bonnie’s original owner. To make it even worse, Anna had really liked Naomi and had hoped they would become friends.

“When Anna saw why her dog Bonnie had half-dragged her onto the bright-green spongy ground beyond the trees, her heart started to beat so fast that she was afraid she’d choke…Anna had never been much of a fainter so was denied that mercy…A name formed inside her head, Naomi. She instantly recoiled from the thought. How could that mutilated emptied-out thing be Naomi?”

As Anna’s trying to figure out what to do, Isadora and Tansy, two other dog walkers stumble on the scene.

“’God, oh my God, oh shit!’ the girl whispered now, then shrieked, ’Buster! Leave!’ Frantically reeling in her retracting lead as her tiny apricot poodle went to sniff at the blood pooling around the corpse. Just in time she turned aside, vomiting into the grass.
The older woman had pulled out her phone. ‘Get me the police! Yes, my name is Isadora Salzman.’ She had one of those actress voices, the posh side of middle class. Anna saw little tremors running through her.”

Anna’s encounter with the police reawakens dark memories from her past and it doesn’t help that the officer who interviews her remembers her from the worst night of her life. Bottom Line? The police decide almost at once that it was a random act of violence performed by a serial killer who’s struck like this several times before against young women. But Anna is convinced this was not a chance encounter gone bad. She’s certain this was personal and she’s determined to not let Naomi’s death be filed away. Naomi deserves justice and Anna is going to make sure she gets it. Isadora and Tansy insist on helping with the search, and take Anna under their wings despite her reluctance to let them.

Now the only two questions are, “What information did Naomi stumble across in her research that led to her death?” and “Who did it?” Oh, and a third question, “Will this trio of amateur sleuths survive their search?”

Because The White Shepherd is Book #1 in a new series, there is some backstory included to help give us perspective on where Anna is in her life and how she became the fairly isolated 30-something that she is. I’m not going to give any of that backstory away here but I found it made her a much more compelling and sympathetic character. She is fully “fleshed out” in this first novel, which is unusual – she’s a completely imperfect and very real person, adding to the complexities of the storyline. And I loved that the author shared all of that with us from the opening gate instead of dribbling out that info over a number of books. I knew who Anna was from the outset and I knew what drove her as a person, and her flawed, tragic past made her even more appealing. Isadora and Tansy provide a nice balance to Anna’s more reclusive personality, and insist on providing friendship and support she didn’t realize she needed. And I can’t forget Bonnie, a pup my heart went out to – not going to say more except that she’s a stellar pup!

Annie Dalton has a great start on this new series with The White Shepherd. It’s filled with red herrings, twists and turns, and lots of suspense as well as quirky minor characters who add fun to the quest. Although it’s a whodunit and I figured out who probably done it before the end, it didn’t matter because I was so thoroughly hooked that I had to find out if I was right or not. If you enjoy a good whodunit, I think you’ll like this a lot. And Book #2 in this series, Written in Red, is scheduled to be published in June 2016. Yay!

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