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Drop Dead on Recall

Drop Dead on Recall

4.8 5
by Sheila Webster Boneham

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The passions aroused by canine competition can inspire violent fantasies. But when a talented handler falls flat on her face during the obedience trials, Australian Shepherd lover Janet MacPhail can hardly believe someone would actually resort to murder.

As she takes care of her mother and falls for a hunky black Lab owner, the last thing Janet needs is to find


The passions aroused by canine competition can inspire violent fantasies. But when a talented handler falls flat on her face during the obedience trials, Australian Shepherd lover Janet MacPhail can hardly believe someone would actually resort to murder.

As she takes care of her mother and falls for a hunky black Lab owner, the last thing Janet needs is to find out she’s become a “person of interest.” Nosing around for clues that might clear her good name, Janet and her friends—Australian Shepherd Jay, tabby cat Leo, and eccentric neighbor Goldie Sunshine—discover the hard way that killers don’t like snoops. And it soon becomes apparent that the next victim might just be Janet herself.


"Boneham packs a punch in her series debut."—RT Book Reviews

"A smart first mystery. Fans of Laurien Berenson or Susan Conant will especially enjoy this pet-centered mystery."—Booklist

"Boneham's debut will delight dog fanciers."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] delightful debut. Right up there with the likes of Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone novels) and Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum novels), without the profanity. An intriguing whodunit."—The Australian Shepherd Journal

"With a sense of humor, a light touch of romance and a solid base of dog training experience under her collar, Sheila Boneham’s first novel is worthy of honorable mention."—The Free Lance-Star

"Sheila Webster Boneham’s mystery, Drop Dead on Recall, is drop dead good. The writing sparkles and the dog-obedience competition setting unleashes a surprising hotbed of motives and opportunities for multiple murder. Animal photographer Janet MacPhail makes a, yes, dogged amateur investigator, dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s and maybe a new midlife beau between finding a vicious killer. The dogs, Labs and Aussies, and cat, Leo, are of course key players in the proceedings. Five enthusiastic arfs."—Carole Nelsom Douglas, bestselling author of the Midnight Louie Mysteries

"Sheila Webster Boneham's delightful debut mystery combines a likeable sleuth, a keep-'em-guessing plot, and wonderfully authentic portrayals of the human and canine denizens of dogdom. First place with a perfect score!"—Susan Conant, author ofBrute Strengthand other novels in TheDog Lover Mysteries

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Dog shows are nerve-wracking, so when a major competitor, Abigail Dorn, keels over and dies, the cause is initially thought to be a heart attack. Fellow dog handler Janet MacPhail helps out by bringing the victim's border collie home with her. Janet's freelance photography business takes her into people's homes and what do you know—people talk. Pretty soon, everyone looks like a potential murder suspect, and Janet wishes she wasn't quite so curious. VERDICT This cozy debut introduces a detective who is knowledgeable about and devoted to her canine companions. Much like in Susan Conant's mysteries, the dogs populate the story and help dictate the solution. A secondary plot involving Janet's family problems distracts from the mystery but will help readers invest in the protagonist's future.
Kirkus Reviews
An Indiana photographer whose life revolves around her dog becomes a reluctant bloodhound. Janet MacPhail and her Australian shepherd, Jay, are competing at an obedience trial near their Fort Wayne home when Abigail Dorn, a respected but not very well-liked woman, collapses and dies. Janet helps out by taking Abigail's award-winning border collie, Pip, home with her while Greg Dorn waits with his stricken spouse. What at first seems to be an allergic reaction turns out to be a poisoning. The police are initially suspicious of Janet, who has not only Pip, but all of Abigail's stuff, including some leftover food containers she's unfortunately run through her dishwasher. But police Detective Jo Stevens, who doesn't really think Janet is a murderer, relies on her to explain the minutiae of dog breeding and showing. Greg emerges as the main suspect, since he may have been having an affair with Suzette Anderson, whose border collie, Fly, is number two behind Pip. Janet must deal with her mother's descent into dementia and her attraction to Tom Saunders, who's showing a Labrador retriever named Drake. In between these problems, she digs up dirt on a breeder who may have falsified breeding records and another dog person who's obsessed with Greg. Even Tom is a suspect because his mother was left out when Abigail's side of the family inherited a fortune, and he's a college professor with expertise in poisonous plants. When Janet starts receiving threats and her cat is kidnapped, she redoubles her efforts to find the truth. Boneham's debut, which supplements its menagerie of human suspects with oodles of information on obedience trials, will delight dog fanciers.

Product Details

Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
Publication date:
Animals in Focus Mystery Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of the Animals in Focus Mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall, the first in the series, won the Dog Writers Association of America Award in Fiction, Mystery, or Humor. She is also the author of 17 nonfiction books, six of which have won major awards from the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association. For the past two decades Boneham has been showing her Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers in various canine sports. She has also bred top-winning Aussies, and founded rescue groups for Aussies and Labs. Boneham holds a doctorate in folklore from Indiana University and resides in Wilmington, N.C. For more information, go to SheilaBoneham.com.

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Drop Dead on Recall 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
DarkAngelCT More than 1 year ago
This book was sent to me via NetGalley for a honest and fair review. This is the story of Janet and what is happening in her circle of dog lover friends when Abigail Dorn falls dead, it's up to Janet to find out what is going on. There is alot of cat and mouse with this book. Someone is targeting Janet of what she might know and what she might not realize that she knows. I loved this book was great that no animals got severely hurt in this book. While the owners of some of the animals...well some just wound up dead regardless. This book also introduced you into the world of show dogs and dog breeding that you may not know about but as I was reading I wound up learning alot about them.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
I’ve never been to a dog show, although I’ve often thought I’d like to do so (or perhaps a cat show). In the meantime, I enjoy the various shows on TV and can easily imagine the drama and shenanigans that must go on behind the scenes. I don’t usually imagine murder but I also don’t think such a thing is impossible, especially when the desire to win runs high. Drop Dead on Recall is a delight, a good mystery with characters I came to like very much. I can relate to Janet having to balance work with concern for her mother’s failing health and, in this particular case, her sleuthing actually makes some sense. While most mystery novels offer some information on topics tangentially involved with the crime, Ms. Boneham provides all kinds of interesting tidbits on pet care, poisons, photography, dog training, etc., and she does so very well, giving just enough to let the reader understand what’s going on but not so much that it seems like lecturing. I also completely fell in love with the pets in the story, especially Jay and Leo (Australian Shepherd and tabby cat, respectively). These two are actively part of the tale (but not in human-like ways) and they add immeasurably to Janet’s appeal. So, a good mystery with plenty of diversions, likeable human and animal characters, a little knowledge I didn’t have before—what more could I want? Well, how about good writing? Sheila Webster Boneham has experience writing nonfiction but that background doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to write a novel. Happily, in her case, it did and the result is smooth prose that flows easily with a distinct lack of construction errors such as grammar and plot cohesion. All in all, this author is a welcome addition to those who write pet mysteries and I’m looking forward eagerly to her next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super book, I highly recommend it!!!
Christy_English More than 1 year ago
I wondered about the title for this blog entry when I first began this post, but I could not think of a better way to describe Sheila Webster Boneham's mystery other than delightful. I picked up this novel knowing that I was biased in her favor. Sheila is one of my writing friends, so it was a marvelous thing to pick up her first novel and find myself forgetting about my good friend Sheila as I became immersed in the mystery. As I watched the mystery unfold one clue, one death at a time, I found myself truly transported by the wry humor of the protagonist, Janet McPhail. No amateur sleuth, she is surrounded by death for the first time in her life and seeks answers for herself and her friends. She is drawn into the mystery much the same way the reader is, one step at a time. In the end, she is forced to solve the mystery to save her own life. As interesting as the mystery was, and I did have trouble putting down the book to go on with my own work, I was most drawn to Janet and her relationship with her furry family, orange tabby cat Leo and Australian Shepherd Jay. As the murders take place among dog lovers, there are many animals in the book. Every animal is as well drawn in personality as the humans around them. I know very little of dog breeding and training, and I felt as if I entered another world entirely, one with its own set of rules and assumptions that was fascinating to step into. This is a well written mystery which builds suspense from the first page. We watch as one human after another falls to a killer within the community, and the sense of betrayal grows with each death. These people know each other, and I cared about them as I watched them die. Friend though I am, I highly recommend this novel. Whether you are an animal lover or a mystery lover, or if you just love a good story, pick up this novel. You won't be sorry.