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Today we are travelling to the Low Country for a Jackie Layton Dog Walker Mystery. Think about it. A dog walker is always on the move and able to pick up clues to a murder while doing their jobs. I also like this one because how often do you get to use the word Schnoodle?
More About the Book
When a client’s dog turns up missing and her husband turns up dead, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott will have to rely on dogged determination to track down a killer . . .
When a frantic client calls, worried about her dog, Andi Grace is happy to drop by the woman’s home and check in on her beloved pet. She’s initially concerned when she discovers the dog’s not in the house, but she’s out-and-out shocked to discover that the woman’s husband is—strangled to death in his office chair. On top of that, she soon finds a ransom note demanding a hefty sum for the dog’s safe return. Andi Grace knows better than to meddle in a murder investigation, but there’s no way she’s going to let a dognapper get away with it.
Unsure of whether the killer took the dog or if they were unrelated crimes, Andi Grace finds herself confounded from the start. More puzzling still is that the dog’s owner seems more upset about her missing pooch than her dead husband. Could the whole thing have been a setup? Did the woman murder her own husband and send Andi Grace to the house under false pretenses to discover the body? As sinister as that possibility may be, the trail of clues leads Andi Grace to uncover an even more nefarious scheme, and she knows she’ll have to tie up all the loose ends fast before the whole case goes to the dogs . . .
Read an Excerpt
“The door was closed and locked, and I used my key. You should know that I keep keys for all of my clients in case of emergencies. And again, Ivey asked me to enter the house.”
“Right. So you came in here. Then what?”
I explained the events leading up to finding Norris’s dead body.
Deputy Hanks studied his notes. “No sign of the dog but you found Norris strangled with a dog leash.”
“Right.” I folded my hands. “Wait, you know how sometimes you get ready to leave your house only to realize you forgot your sunglasses or purse or phone? Then you have to run back inside and find what you left behind?”
“Yeah. What’s the point you’re trying to make?”
“I didn’t look in the car. What if Lady is in Norris’s Lexus?”
His eyebrows rose, and he called Deputy Denise Harris over. She was a relative newcomer to Heyward Beach but seemed to fit in with the sheriff ’s department. Deputy Hanks spoke to her in such low tones, I couldn’t make out the words. The Black female deputy hurried out of the house, and I hoped she was on the way to check the car.
I met his gaze. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Now, have you shared the news with the victim’s wife?”
I shook my head. “No. I thought you or the sheriff would want to call Ivey and gauge her response in case she’s guilty.”
“Smart move. Is there anything else you need to share?”
Nothing came to mind. “No, sir.”
“Fine. Why don’t you send in Mr. Williams?” He scribbled something on the small sheet of paper.
I left him sitting there and rejoined Marc on the front porch. “Your turn.”
He stood and gave me a hug. “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been better, but you should go in there before Deputy Hanks comes looking for you.”
Marc chuckled. “Yep. There’s no need to get sideways with the man.”
Deputy Harris approached me. “No luck on finding the dog. I’ll let the others know.”
“I appreciate you checking.” After the deputy went inside, I sat on the swing, but restlessness drove me to my feet. I walked down the wooden stairs and paced in the sandy driveway, keeping alert for a sign of Ivey’s schnoodle.
Sunlight glinted off something in the grass. I walked over to inspect the item. Without touching anything, it was easy enough to identify an oyster knife. Shiny and probably new. I snapped a quick picture with my phone.
Norris didn’t seem like the kind of guy to get his hands dirty shucking oysters, so why was it here?
“Hey, what’s going on?” The voice sounded familiar.
My heart skipped a beat. Had the killer come back? No. The place was crawling with law enforcement. I turned, and relief flooded through me as I recognized the man dressed in shorts and running shoes. He held a rolled-up T-shirt in one hand. “Oh, hi, Ethan. You scared me.” Ethan Seitz was a local pharmacist and one of my dog-walking clients. I was also giving obedience lessons to his black Lab, Yoyo.
“What’s happening? Did someone get hurt?” He pulled the shirt on over his sweaty body.
“I’m not sure if I can say anything yet, but I can’t find Ivey Gilbert’s dog. Have you seen Lady? She’s a little black-and-white schnoodle.”
“Not this morning, but I know this many deputies didn’t show up to look for a lost dog.” He pointed toward the official vehicles.
“Funny, but true. Have you seen any strangers wandering around this area today?”
He lifted the bottom of his shirt and wiped the sweat on his face. “I saw an unfamiliar Mini Cooper when I was playing in my front yard with Yoyo. I think a man was driving, but I wouldn’t swear to it.”
“What color was the car?”
“Blue, which surprised me. It was a fun blue, like turquoise. It seems as if most of the people around here drive white Minis.”
“Good point. You know I’d tell you more about what’s going on here if I could, but the sheriff wouldn’t be happy. I sure don’t want to obstruct his investigation and get tossed into jail.” I didn’t think Wade would resort to such drastic measures, but I didn’t want to interfere and push my luck with the sheriff.
Ethan laughed. “Isn’t solving murders what you do when you’re not working with dogs?”
“Shh. Don’t say that when there are so many deputies around.” I smiled.
“Thanks for the tip about the car though. If a deputy questions you, please tell them.”
“Right. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Right now, I better finish my run. See you around, Andi Grace.”
“Bye.” I watched him take off in the direction of the entry gate.
I returned to pacing. Lady needed to be found, and it’d be great to locate the driver of the blue Mini Cooper. The person probably had nothing to do with the murder, but it was a starting place. I also needed to point out the oyster knife in case it was a clue.
During Heyward Beach’s last murder investigation, I had told myself to focus on planning my wedding. This time I was completely focused on preparing for my nuptials. No stinking murder was going to hinder my progress.
You can find A Killer Unleashed at these online retailers:
http://bit.ly/3jbGX8u A Killer Unleashed Paperback B&N
https://amzn.to/3GY3M7H Amazon Kindle
https://amzn.to/3JqtpRs Paperback Amazon
More About the Author
Jackie Layton loves living in the Low Country of South Carolina. She always dreamed of living on the coast, and reality is better than the dream. The warm weather, the beach, and the relaxed people make it special. Most of her travel these days is to Kentucky and Texas to spend time with family. She also enjoys working part-time as a compounding pharmacist and having more time to write cozy mysteries.
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