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The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Is there anything quite as satisfying to the mystery lover as discovering a pair of made-for-each-other police partners in a new book?...Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett, a Spaniard, gives us similar cause for appreciation in 'Dog Day,'

Date: Sep 5 2006

Is there anything quite as satisfying to the mystery lover as discovering a pair of made-for-each-other police partners in a new book? Think about upper-crust Inspector Thomas Lynley partnered with lower-class misfit Barbara Havers. Or the hyper-intelligent Inspector Morse hard at work on a case with his plodding assistant, Sergeant Lewis. In these stories, the mystery is enhanced by the growing relationship between the partners.
 
Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett, a Spaniard, gives us similar cause for appreciation in "Dog Day," the first installment of her Inspector Petra Delicado mystery series to be published in the United States. "Dog Day," one of a half-dozen of the popular Delicado mysteries in print in Europe, is narrated in the first person, with self-deprecating humor and a jaundiced eye for the human condition, by Petra herself.
 
The true underpinning of the book is Petra's professional and personal connection to her partner, the portly widower, Sgt. Fermin Garzon. They are workaholics, they are drinking buddies, they are warm friends, they are exasperated comrades.
 
In "Dog Day," an almost-nothing-of-a-man, a throwaway, is found pummeled into a coma in Barcelona, and Petra and Fermin get the case. No one will admit to knowing the man. He has no identification. Neighborhood canvasses turn up no information whatsoever. Then, police discover a howling little dog locked in a seedy apartment, and, through a series of deductions and lucky breaks, the partners link the dog to the victim, who later dies. What, then, is Petra, a twice-divorced loner, going to do with this scrawny, ugly dog with stumpy legs, "wispy black hair and drooping ears"? She names him Freaky, and takes him home, because, she says, he can be of help in the investigation.
 
That investigation leads Petra and Fermin into the dark world of dog thefts, dog selling, medical experiments and worse, though Gimenez-Bartlett is careful not to get too graphic. The story also gives Gimenez-Bartlett a chance to educate us all on the nobility of dogs, and how these animals are used and misused. Petra and Fermin solve their case, but there is no happy ending. Still, a wonderful partnership lives on.
 
by Marietta Dunn