What I'm Reading: Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series

Well, actually, I'm reading the last three of Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series. Over the years, I've read her Rowdy & Kimi books as they've appeared on the shelves - but there was a gap a couple of years back and I admit to moving along and losing track of her.

I re-discovered the Dog Lovers Mysteries when I found a pretty hardcover of her book, Bride & Groom, for sale in the clearance stacks of Barnes & Noble. Now, I'm midway through Gaits of Heaven and All Shots is next.

I already expect some of you to be snooty here. A dog book? A mystery? What light reading, what secondary fare. Well, you're foolish to think so.

Crime fiction still gets snubbed, and I don't care. It wastes too much time worrying about what other people think, and sooner or later cream rises to the top, anyway. Think Mark Twain. Think Raymond Chandler. You know what I mean.

Susan Conant's work reads well, the characters grow over time, and I like the fact that I'm puzzled over why those darn squirrels aren't coming into the crazy therapists' backyard in Gaits. (I've already decided that the murderer has to be either the plumber or Steve's ex, but I am stumped about this squirrel business.)

Another thing that I appreciate about Susan Conant is that she uses these mysteries to teach me about dogs. I learned about the horrors of puppy farms in Bloodlines. I learned about therapy dogs in the Barker Street Regulars. And, interwoven throughout all her dog mysteries are little tidbits about the training and care and actions of dogs: e.g., the best treats to keep in your pocket, why crating works, and what scent-rolling is all about.

I suspect that this Harvard PhD in human development is patiently teaching us all about dogs via the mystery genre -- and that's fine by me. I'm grateful for these books, they make my life better. And they're funny, too.