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Rochester’s on the hunt again!
When his college friend Doug moves to Stewart’s Crossing after an ugly divorce, reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan sees a way to pay forward the help he received under similar circumstances. But when Doug dies under mysterious circumstances, Steve and his crime-solving golden retriever Rochester have a new goal: Find the truth behind Doug’s death, even if Steve has to risk the freedom he has fought so hard for to do it. Contains Ponzi schemers, a Quaker funeral and cute jump drives shaped like llamas.
Honest to Dog is available for ebook preorder on Amazon right now, for $2.99. After the launch date, the price will go up to $3.99 — so now’s the time to buy!
And if you email Neil a screen shot of your order, at firstname.lastname@example.org, then he will shoot you back a PDF of not one but two Rochester short stories (originally published in the Happy Homicides anthologies) as well as the dog treat recipes from my holiday ebook.
Rochester loves treats, and don’t we all? Here’s a special bit of “flash fiction” for all his fans– called “Doggy DNA.”
As we walked down the alley behind the Chocolate Ear together, my golden retriever Rochester noticed the brindle boxer in front of the pawn shop at the corner of Ferry Street before I did. He’s always eager to make new friends and thinks every dog on the street will be as gregarious as he is. Sadly, that’s not always the case.
It was a gorgeous spring day, a cloudless blue sky above and the scent of lilac blossoms on the air, and I’d planned to turn down the alley onto Ferry Street and take Rochester to the canal towpath for a long walk, but when I saw that the boxer was alone, without a leash, I tugged on Rochester’s leash to turn around.
Rochester strained forward as the boxer lifted his leg on a stone planter of yellow daffodils in front of the pawn shop. Then the door swung open and a young woman rushed out. She had big round-framed sunglasses and a frizzy mop of bright red hair that immediately attracted my attention, and she wore a shapeless brown tent dress that swirled as she moved.
She took off toward Ferry Street, the boxer right behind her. As she ran, her head appeared to tilt to the right, and I realized as she grabbed at her hair that she was wearing a wig. I watched in fascination as she pulled the wig off. Then she and the dog turned the corner and were gone.
A moment later a portly man in baggy jeans and a fisherman’s shirt came out of the pawn shop door.
He looked up and down the alley. “You see a girl come running out of here?” he asked me, as Rochester and I approached.
“Yeah, with a bright red wig?” I asked. “She and her dog ran down to Ferry Street and turned right.”
“She looked so innocent with that goofy red hair,” he said. “I should never have turned my back on her.”
“She stole something?”
“A diamond ring. Worth about five grand.” He shook his head. “I’ll have to call the cops and then the insurance company.”
He went back inside grumbling. Rochester and I continued down the alley to Ferry Street. I tried to turn him toward the canal, but instead he pulled as if he wanted to cross the street.
“What is it, boy?”
I looked across the street in the direction he wanted to go. A young woman, of about the same shape and size of the pawn shop thief, was hurrying down the block, accompanied by a brindle boxer.
The same woman? This one had mousy brown hair cut short, and wore a bright yellow blouse and dark green shorts. She looked like a walking daffodil.
At first I thought it had to be a different woman and a different dog, but Rochester thought otherwise. The lack of a leash was the kicker for me.
We stayed on our side of the street and followed her up to Main Street. The boxer waited obediently by her side until the light changed. While we waited ourselves, I pulled out my cell phone and called my friend Rick Stemper, one of the police detectives in Stewart’s Crossing, our home town.
I told him about the girl and the dog, and he said, “I’m almost at the pawn shop. Keep an eye on her.”
Rochester and I kept our distance as we followed the girl across Main Street and up a block, where she turned left. She climbed the porch of an old Victorian with fading paint on the green and white gingerbread.
She and the dog went inside, and Rochester and I waited in the shade of a big maple just coming into leaf until Rick arrived a few minutes later, parking his unmarked car on the side street.
“You sure it’s the same girl?” he asked, as he reached down to chuck Rochester under his chin.
“Can’t say. Same body type, and it’s definitely the same dog. Rochester recognized him.”
“Huh. The crime dog strikes again.”
Despite his skepticism, I knew that Rochester and I had converted Rick into a believer in my dog’s detective abilities.
“All the pawn shop guy remembers is the bright red hair,” he said. “He couldn’t identify her.”
“What about the dog?”
“He didn’t say anything about a dog.”
“Rochester and I saw the dog, a brindle boxer, pee on the planter in front of the pawn shop. I’ll bet you could get the dog’s DNA and match it. They do that kind of thing now, you know.”
“Not in Stewart’s Crossing,” he said. “The chief would laugh me right out of his office if I suggested that.”
“But the girl doesn’t have to know that,” I said. “You’re always complaining that people assume too much from DNA evidence, right? That they have no idea how complicated it is?”
“So when you talk to her, tell her that you got the dog’s DNA from the planter, and if she wasn’t with him, then someone else was, and you need to take the dog in for evidence.”
He shook his head, and I wasn’t sure he was going to take my idea. He was the cop, after all. My dog and I were just amateurs.
Rochester and I went for a long walk along the canal towpath, enjoying the spring weather, and it wasn’t until dinner time when Rick called. “Never underestimate the dumbness of the common criminal,” he said. “She bought the story about the doggie DNA. She said she’d hand over the diamond ring if I didn’t take her dog away. “
“Lesson learned,” I said. “Next time you’re going to commit a crime, leave the dog at home.”
Rochester woofed in agreement.