After being introduced to Sherlock Bones, the Greatest Detective in the World, in Case File #1: Doggone, Dr. Jane Catson - surgeon and veteran of the Cat Wars - is back to share an all-new mystery adventure with readers. Despite all of Jane's resistance, Bones is now living with her and her housekeeper/chef, the turtle with a jetpack, Mr. Javier. This time out, the mismatched duo's investigations lead them to a case involving murder, of course, and - wait for it! - Utah. If there's one thing readers can be certain of it's that in this world, the animals are always smarter than the humans. Also, did we mention...Utah?
About the Author
Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of more than 25 books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Sisters 8 series for young readers which she created with her husband and daughter. She lives in Danbury, Connecticut.
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The Adventures of Sherlock Bones Case File #2: Doggone
By Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Month9BooksCopyright © 2017 Lauren Baratz-Logsted
All rights reserved.
I was having the most awful dream.
Asleep, awake, asleep, awake.
I've taken a lot of flak in my life over how much sleeping I do: the sixteen naps in a typical twenty-four-hour cycle; the naps before and after meals; the naps because it's ten a.m. or three p.m. or even two-sixteen p.m. on alternating Tuesdays –
Well, you get the idea. To this, I say: aren't we all always doing one or the other – waking or sleeping? Unless, of course, we are no longer alive.
And so, since I was most definitely asleep – and that is perfectly okay – I was, as previously stated, having the most awful dream.
In this dream, a dog had shown up on my doorstep. Well, actually, he showed up on my lawn, while I was napping outside. He was a Great Dane, sent to me by our mutual friend, and he said his name was Sherlock Bones. He had this wild story about being something called a "consulting detective." Which was a job very similar to being a private detective, or so he said. He further claimed that public detectives, the human ones, came to him all the time for help with their more difficult cases, which chiefly involved murder.
Ever since humans discovered twenty or so years ago that animals could speak, they always seem to be asking us for our advice on one thing or another, although they never give us any credit.
Then in the dream, before I knew what was happening, there actually was a murder case that needed solving, the human police actually did draft the dog to help and I, in turn, was dragged along with them. Then, a whole bunch of other things happened, all so rapidly within the confines of a day that I was barely even able to sneak in one nap, let alone the typical sixteen. Once the murder was solved – actually, we ended up solving two murders before we were done, and did so in a manner so confusing, I barely understood what had occurred – the dog behaved as though he were going to move into my home permanently.
Can you even imagine what the neighbors would think of that? A dog and a cat, living together?!
Why, it wasn't all that many years ago that the city was still divided into four distinct districts: the Human Quarter, the Dog Quarter, the Cat Quarter, and the Everything Else Quarter. Then, the Great Melting occurred. Now there's even a rabbit living next door. But I say to you again: A dog and a cat, living together? Unheard of!
But, in this awful dream, the dog did move into the home that had previously housed only a cat – me, Dr. Jane Catson – and my trusty housekeeper/cook, Mr. Javier, a Castilian turtle. Did I mention that, in his spare moments while solving the case, the dog invented a jetpack for the turtle so he could move more quickly from place to place?
It looked preposterous – a jetpack on a turtle! – and I did worry about Mr. Javier's poor little brain as he was always going too fast and crashing into things. Perhaps at some point the dog could create a crash helmet for him? Still, it did have its advantages. Formerly, it could take Mr. Javier days to do a simple grocery run at his old creeping pace. But after the jetpack arrived, he could be there and back again lickety-split.
It really was the most awful dream. There was just one problem. When I stretched and opened my eyes as I awoke, I was immediately confronted by the dog from the dream. He was sitting beside me on his haunches, waiting somewhat impatiently for me to arise. As I glanced up at him – this Great Dane, who insisted on wearing his deerstalker hat so often I had to frequently remind him to remove the ridiculous thing – I was forced to admit, yet again:
My "awful" dream ... had actually happened. Which meant that I really had somehow helped the dog to solve a murder and he had somehow wormed his way into my life with the intent to stay.
Well, rats.CHAPTER 2
Yes, as much as I hate to admit it, the dog had moved in.
Despite all my protestations, he'd fully ensconced himself in my home – lock, stock and water dish. Incidentally, his water dish alone was so big, it might just as well have been a barrel. And he'd brought all of his dog paraphernalia with him, which included his fencing swords and equipment and his boxing gloves and punching bag. Oh, and his violin and music stand, which he never uses anyway, claiming that once he hears a piece he immediately knows it by heart.
He installed many of these items in my living room, which he always refers to as the drawing room. Before his arrival into my life, my entire home had been an example of cozy good taste. Why, if not for the fact that I valued my privacy above all else, a cover spread in Feline Architectural Digest would not have been out of my reach.
Take the living room.
Before the dog, it had a high ceiling – there are high ceilings, which I love, throughout my home – and a stone fireplace with a mantelpiece over it (which you could see from across the room when you turned the corner at the top of the long staircase). Before the dog, the Oriental runner on the staircase leading up from the front door of 221B Baker Street was always pristine. Before the dog, the living room also had two deep-red leather wing chairs that face toward the fireplace from either side, but that could be turned to face the room if company came; a long sofa across the room from the bay window; a floral comfy cushion — also in front of the bay window — on which I preferred to take my indoor naps; an occasional table, upon which lay the black telephone only used occasionally; various personal and decorative items, like framed pictures and such; and a large Turkish carpet covering most of the hardwood floor.
After the dog, the living room still had all those things, but it also had those items I mentioned the dog had brought with him, and – wait for it! – a basket filled with chew toys. Now it's true, although I haven't mentioned it yet, that I keep my own basket in the living room. But mine is filled with classy items: balls of yarn in lovely colors, like orchid, pale pink and lime green; cloth mice, some with feathers attached for variety; and jingly balls, which are balls with bells inside. I love a good jingly ball.
True, they are not the classiest in appearance, but I stow them discreetly at the bottom of the basket, under the finer things, whenever I'm expecting company, which, thankfully, is almost never. But the dog's basket? Filled to the brim with ugly, plastic chew toys? Ghastly. The chew toys even squeak.
The dog's move in took place over the course of one very long day. I was so distressed, I couldn't nap. I was so distressed, I could barely watch, keeping my paws over my eyes, only peeking out briefly each time he thumped up the stairs with yet another item to be added to my previously tidy home. He'd even installed two chandeliers, one for the living room and one for the dining area, which you reach from the living room by passing through French doors that are almost always left open. The chandeliers did add a lovely light and warmth, plus a touch of additional class to the place. But I wasn't about to tell him that.
Besides, I didn't need to. Because the turtle complimented the dog nearly every day.
"Oh, Boss!" Mt. Javier enthused each day as he set about his duties. "Aren't these chandeliers beautiful?"
"Well, I suppose they're all right," I allowed.
"And wasn't it brilliant of Boss," and here I knew Mr. Javier was referring to the dog, who he now thought of – annoyingly – as his other boss, "wasn't it brilliant of him to design for me this jetpack? You know, Boss, without the jetpack, it would take forever for me to dust the chandeliers."
Each day, as I lazily watched Mr. Javier dust, suspended high in the air by his jetpack as he flitted around the chandeliers waving his little dust rag at the crystal pieces, I was forced to admit he had a point.
If we'd had chandeliers but no jetpack, Mr. Javier would have been forced to drag out the tall stepladder, making his laborious way up the rungs. Such a process could take him all day. But now? In minutes, he could be done.
So yes, I supposed the dog could be beneficial for some things. If only he weren't so annoying about so many other things.
Take, for instance ...CHAPTER 3
No sooner had the dog installed all his things in my home – my home, may I emphasize, since it was my name on the deed of ownership – than he commenced to introduce us proudly to everyone we came across as "Bones and Catson, Consulting Detectives."
No, really. When I say everyone, this is not an exaggeration. We're talking here about people in shops, random strangers on the streets, and any delivery person who came to the back door with, you know, a delivery.
And each time he did it, my mind silently screamed: When did I ever agree to this?
Sometimes, my screaming was not so silent. In fact, it was occasionally quite loud as I sought, repeatedly, to point out to the dog that I had never signed up for any of this ... not ever.
But do you know what happened each time I yelled?
Instead of getting angry back – instead of shouting at me in return – the dog would simply sit there on his haunches, gazing at me calmly, until I was quite finished. Then the dog would ask calmly – and how annoying is this – "Are you quite finished?"
When one is really angry about something, there is nothing quite as infuriating as the irritating party behaving as though there's nothing worth getting bothered about.
And so, after a time, I eventually stopped screaming and shouting ... at least out loud. I simply gave in to it all. "Bones and Catson, Consulting Detectives" included.
But I did tell the dog that if we were going to do this thing, we should do it right.
"I'm sorry," the dog said, "but I don't follow."
"If we're to be in this business together," I said, "then obviously we should put a sign above the door to our 221B address."
"A sign? What sort of sign? Do you mean like one of those hex signs to keep witches away like those that can be found on barns in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the United States of America?"
"No, I don't mean a hex sign! We're not witches!"
"Then what sort of sign do you mean?"
"A business sign!" I didn't add "You stupid twit" to the end of the sentence but I swear it hung in the air.
"And what would this business sign say?"
"Oh, I don't know." I shuffled my paws a bit, looked at the ground. "Dr. Jane Catson & Sherlock Bones, Consulting Detectives, perhaps?"
The dog laughed. "Leaving out the fact that the order of names in such a sign would be inaccurate, both alphabetically and in terms of detecting abilities, we don't need any sign."
He didn't say "You stupid twit" either but I definitely heard it in his words, along with a particular scoff in how he said "sign."
It was so annoying. He was the one that kept insisting to everyone that we were some sort of partners. He was the one who dragged me into all this. And now, the first time I made a suggestion to improve our business – a smart one, I might add – he was shooting me down? You'd think he'd at least be appreciative, happy, that I was making an effort.
"Well then, business cards, at least," I tried again. "We should have proper business cards printed up, regardless of the order of our names on the cards."
He stared at me – dumbly, I might add.
"You know," I explained, "our names plus the address and phone number, so clients can locate and get a hold of us."
"Whatever for?" The dog laughed again. "I don't need to advertise or become some sort of ambulance-chaser. Everyone knows who I am. The cases come to me!"
I had to admit, the last case we worked on together, it really had just come to him, with a knock at the door and a human saying, basically – boom! – "Here's a case." But did he really think it could and would just happen like that, over and over again?
Wow. Someone had an awfully high opinion of himself.
Sure, it could work that way.
The delusional dog could just keep telling himself that.
In the meantime, I'd find some way to do a thing or two my way.
"Fine," I told him. "You just keep telling yourself that."CHAPTER 4
Which brings me full circle back to where we began. I had just awoken on my comfy cushion beside the bay window in my living room from what I thought was an awful dream of the dog moving in, only to find it real and the dog staring down at me. The glass in the bay window had to be replaced after our last case because the murderer had tried to escape through it. In my worst nightmares, I sometimes still saw my lovely cushion, littered with dangerous shards of glass.
"You know, Catson," Bones said with neither greeting nor introduction, as was his habit, "I've been thinking."
"Well, that can't be good," I said with a yawn.
"I've been thinking," he said, "you need to get out more."
"What are you talking about, Bones? I'm outside all the time. Well, except for when I'm inside, like now. But other than when I'm inside? I'm always outside."
"I'm not talking about the variety of places you nap. Napping on the lawn, I must point out, is not socializing. You should socialize more. You never have anyone in, and so you must get out more."
"I'm a cat," I pointed out, stating the obvious. "I like my privacy, which I had plenty of until you came along. I don't need to socialize. You do enough of that for both of us."
This was true. Since he'd moved in, he was forever entertaining all sorts of visitors. The Baker Street Regulars, comprised of six Cocker Spaniel stray puppies, were among the most frequent – especially their pack leader, Waggins. What they could do with that basket of chew toys, you don't even want to know.
Also, heaven help me, now I was referring to us as an us.
Before he could respond, his eyes seized on something outside our window.
Suddenly, he screamed, "Squirrel!"
And then he was racing for the door.CHAPTER 5
Immediately, I raced after him.
Because, well, who doesn't enjoy a good squirrel chase?
The only problem was, I couldn't run nearly as quickly as the dog because, well, he is a dog; plus, I have this nasty limp, a holdover from my service in the Cat Wars.
So while the dog bounded down the long flight of stairs, descending from the living area of my home to the door leading out to the street, I quickly limped behind. When I got to the bottom, I saw the dog had left the door hanging ajar behind him, meaning I could just follow through that rather than having to leap through the rectangular door flap which is my usual method of exit and entry. Some humans call such a thing a pet door, but I am no one's pet.
Once outside and down the path, I looked left and right to see which way the dog had gone. He had run left, of course. The dog was almost always going left, just like he'd taken the left bedroom in my home, although now was not the time to dwell on dwelling arrangements.
The dog was all the way at the end of the street, one paw acting as a visor over his eyes as he scanned the horizon.
At last, with a rare and brief look of dejected failure, he trotted back to me.
"Did you see where he went, Catson?" he said, back to his usual urgency.
"Who?" I asked. "The squirrel?"
"Of course, the squirrel!" he said with some exasperation.
"I'm afraid not," I admitted. "By the time I got outside, he was nowhere in sight. But look, there's another squirrel over there. And there. And there. There are plenty of squirrels everywhere this time of year."
It was late summer and the squirrels were all busily gathering food to store for winter. One could almost pity the squirrels their need to do that. Me, whenever I need to stock up, I just send Mr. Javier to the corner store for more tins of tuna and packages of pasta.
I would have started chasing some of the squirrels but, frankly, I was a bit tired after my run down the stairs. Speaking of which, was it time for another nap yet?
"I don't want just some random squirrel!" he said, more exasperated yet.
"You don't?" Now I was puzzled.
Excerpted from The Adventures of Sherlock Bones Case File #2: Doggone by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Copyright © 2017 Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
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