Give me land lots of land....and a puppy on the loose. When Betsy Livingston's puppy runs away, she has no idea it will lead her to a murder on a movie cowboy star's estate. Not only has there been a murder, but the town reports sightings of the dead cowboy himself. He's out to seek revenge on all who wronged his daughter who became the victim of her own money-loving butler. Enjoy a little time on the Fourth of July in the tiny town of Pecan Bayou Texas where old cowboys never die...
Zachary proudly took his new puppyâ€™s leash out of the cabinet. I held our newest member of the family, Butch, a twelve-pound weimaraner. We opened the front door and stepped out into the smothering Texas heat of late June. Zach had received Butch for his tenth birthday after weeks of parental harassment. I had relented, finally, hoping that Zach was ready for the responsibility of a dog. He promised me on bended knee that he would feed him, bathe him and walk him.
â€śZach, we need to be careful walking him. Heâ€™s so little, but heâ€™s strong, so he can for sure wriggle out of that collar.â€ť As if to illustrate my point, Butch started squirming as he felt the constraints of the collar and leash. He had used his entire weight to pull loose from the contraption.
â€śI know, mom. Donâ€™t worry,â€ť Zach reassured me, his voice reflecting the impatience he must have been feeling. He reached down and patted Butch on the head. â€śItâ€™s okay, boy, weâ€
™re just going for a little walk.â€ť
As we headed down the driveway, Butch immediately responded to the fresh air rushing around him, and he was spurred to freedom. â€śHold on tight, Zach.â€ť
â€śI am. I am. Heâ€™s really pulling me hard. Slow down, boy!â€ť
Zach, arm outstretched, reached the curb of our street. Butch, blissfully unaware of the dangers of cars, plowed out on to the road, pulling Zach along behind him.
I heard it before I saw it. The low rumble of an engine going at a high speed increased in volume as I spotted a shiny red Corvette coming around the corner. A young man, biceps bulging out of his black sleeveless T-shirt, was behind the wheel.
Zach was now in the middle of the street with Butch heading toward the other side. My heart exploded as I ran into the street directly into the path of the car, swooping up Zach and causing the two of us to fall into the grassy lawn of the neighborhood playground. As I felt my knees pound into the dirt, the horn blared from the car. Its owner had hit the power windows and yelled, â€śKeep your stupid kid out of the road!â€ť
I jumped up ready to yell something back that wouldnâ€™t be listed as an appropriate response by the parenting magazines when I heard Zach yell behind me. â€śMom! Butch got away!â€ť
I turned back to Zach to see little Butch skittering through the sand under the swings and then hightailing it across the park to the other side.
There were two distinct sides to our little playground. Most of the homes on our side were three- or four-bedroom ranches, nice driveways, lawns cut by the owners and plenty of kids. The other side of the play area was a newer subdivision that had been built in the last ten years when Charlie Loper, a faded cowboy star, had sold off the land around his house in town. Even though he had acreage out in the country, the home in town became a storehouse for many of the props he used in the score of old-time Westerns he had starred in during the â€™40s and â€™50s.
Now that the subdivision had been built around the elegant structure, most of the houses on that side of the playground were two-story red brick, with short driveways and high mortgages. They were beautiful to walk through, and their manicured lawns, well-placed flowers and trees and fresh paint could be seen and envied from our side of the swing sets. Our newest family member was bound and determined to move up in the world and had headed for the shinier side of the street.
Zach and I ran after him, yelling out his name. I was amazed that anything with such short legs could move so darned fast. Butch zipped across the street on the other side of the park. I grabbed Zach by the shoulders, stopping him before he ran out into traffic for a second time.
â€śLook both ways!â€ť I blurted.
Zach obediently jerked his head in both directions then up at me. I nodded back and we ran across the street together. Unfortunately, my bout of parenting gave the dog an even bigger head start on us. His little butt wiggled as his wagging tail seemed to propel him down the street. Butch looked all around, happy to be exploring. He came upon the biggest house in the neighborhood, the old Loper home, and shimmied under two giant wrought-iron gates that joined the large segments of gray brick walls surrounding the house. â€śHe went in the cowboy house!â€ť shouted Zach.
â€śButch!â€ť I yelled out, now grasping the black curlicues of the gate.
â€śButch! You get back over here. Bad dog. Bad dog!â€ť
Butch, not feeling the guilt, went right on taking time to pee on the historic fountain, a bronze depiction of Charlie Loper on a bucking bronco with his six gun shooting into the air. Once heâ€™d finished tagging the statue, he happily scampered around the back of the house.
I shook the gate, the sound of metal rattling in our ears. There was a black box with a speaker and a button ner the bottom. I pushed the button.
I tried the latch on the gate. It was locked. God forbid someone from the other side of the park should get in to experience opulent cowboy luxury. I hit the buzzer again. â€śHello, is anyone in there? Iâ€™m sorry, but our dog just crawled under your fence.â€ť
Again, no answer.
Zach now slid in front of me and pushed the speaker button. â€śHelllllllooooo â€¦â€ť He elongated his greeting as if yelling into an empty canyon. Feeling his approach might work, he repeated it. The black box rustled. â€śMay I help you?â€ť a clipped British accent came over the airway. Not exactly the voice you would expect to hear while staring at a statue of a man on a bucking horse. Whoever this guy in the box was, he didnâ€™t sound pleased we were pushing his button.
â€śYes,â€ť I answered. â€śOur puppy crawled under your front gate, and Iâ€™m afraid heâ€™s running around on your grounds.â€ť
Silence. I waited for around ten seconds until Zach pulled at my sleeve, urging me to push the button again.
â€śAre you there?â€ť I asked. â€śSir?â€ť
â€śSir? Did you hear what I said? Our puppy has â€¦â€ť
â€śI heard you,â€ť he cut me off.
â€śHave you seen him?â€ť
â€śNo. I have not. Please leave.â€ť
I pushed the button, ignoring the black boxâ€™s command. â€śAre there any other ways out besides this gate?â€ť
â€śI have not seen your puppy,â€ť the increasingly perturbed voice said. â€śYou are at the only entrance and exit of the estate. You must have been â€¦ mistaken. Good day.â€ť
We had been dismissed. Zach breathed in deep and exhaled with a cry. â€śWhereâ€™s Butch, Mom?â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know, baby. Letâ€™s walk down the block and call for him. Maybe he got out the other side somehow.â€ť
â€śBut the guy said â€¦â€ť
â€śI know what the guy said.â€ť
Melina Mason â€“ 5 StarsLove the Series! wrote:
Literature with dogs as supporting characters is as old and new as literature itself, so itâ€™s no wonder that this Teresa Trent mystery featuring single mother Betsy Livingston begins with the search for Butch, her sonâ€™s lost/kidnapped puppy whose blood covered paws lead to the discovery of a dead body. DOGGONE DEAD is the third book in this series set in the small Texas town of Pecan Bayou. The townsfolk include an unusual array characters ranging from the proprietors of the local watermelon farm and their sketchy son and the aging daughter of a long-dead movie cowboy to the towns new D.A., a local veterinarian who employs Danny, Betsyâ€™s mildly Downâ€™s syndrome nephew and Aunt Maggie â€“ paranormal investigator.
Pecan Bayou is a town rife with slightly quirky characters and the customary small town events like the â€ślittle Miss Watermelonâ€ť beauty contest and Pet Parades that is guaranteed to leave the reader with that warm, fuzzy down home feeling. Additionally, because of Betsyâ€™s job as a local newspaper columnist, â€śThe Happy Hinterâ€ť, readers are even treated to recipes for tasty items like Peanut Butter Pie and Berry Watermelon smoothies.
This is one of those fun cozies that keeps you reading and doesnâ€™t take all that long to finishâ€¦.you can knock it off in just a couple of hours. There are even a couple of surprises lurking in the pages that I am not at liberty to divulge lest your reading experience be â€śspoiledâ€ť.
â€“Amazon Reviewer 5 Stars wrote:
Couldnâ€™t Put it Down!
Well, Teresa Trent has done it again. She has written a wonderful cozy mystery that leaves you guessing till the end. As always, the book was filled with wonderful characters, like Betsy Livingston, who always seems to get into trouble. This book had everything a good cozy mystery should have, humor and it leaves you guessing. I literally could not put this book down and had to finish it in pratically one setting. I canâ€™t wait to read more about the quirky characters from Pecan Bayou Texas. Great job Teresa, keep up the great work.
One of the best parts of my recent vacation was finally having time to curl up with another of Teresa Trentâ€™s fun reads. The town of Pecan Bayou and the folks who populate it are so real, and the latter are very likable. This story has lots of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. I think itâ€™s my favorite in the series, so far. I definitely plan to keep reading!
Doggone Good sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Plus a new series for me. Thank you
Meant Dog gone Dead! Still am going to read it.