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The Washington Post: "Barcelona police Inspector Petra Delicado and paunchy, fiftysomething Sgt. Fermin Garzon prove to be one of the more engaging sleuth teams to debut in a long time."

Date: Jun 25 2006

A Dead Man's Best Friend

Canines also figure in Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett's superlative police procedural, Dog Day. Barcelona police Inspector Petra Delicado and paunchy, fiftysomething Sgt. Fermin Garzon prove to be one of the more engaging sleuth teams to debut in a long time. They earnestly pursue the truth about the murder of a loser who has no one but his abandoned dog to mourn him. That orphaned pooch becomes part of a pack of unforgettable characters -- including a steely female trainer of attack dogs, a traditionally feminine proprietor of a shop filled with books about animals, and a handsome veterinarian -- who aid the police pair in a quest that takes them into the dark world of dog trafficking.

Much amusement ensues when the dog trainer and the book lady both fall in love with Garzon, leading Delicado to help the hapless Romeo move out of his rooming house into a bachelor pad suitable for seduction. Meanwhile, the inspector has a distraction of her own in the form of the amorous vet.

In Nicholas Caistor's smooth translation from the Spanish, Gimenez-Bartlett evokes pity, horror and laughter with equal adeptness. No wonder she won the Femenino Lumen prize in 1997 as the best female writer in Spain.

By Rosemary Herbert