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Dogs, guns, and money
DOG IN THE MANGER
by Mike Resnick
Seventh Street Books, 220 pp.
Reviewed by Bob Sanchez
Dog in the Manger is a re-release of a murder mystery by Mike Resnick. His fictional hero, Eli Paxton, is a likable but not-all-that-successful private eye based in Cincinnati. So when a man named Hubert Lantz approaches him to locate a missing show dog named Baroness, it looks like his kind of case. No, he doesn't know dogs from diddly, but at least the case is straightforward--just find out why she didn't arrive as scheduled on that Federated flight 308. But soon it looks like Paxton will have to earn his money when someone tries to gun him down. Now he wonders “what the hell I knew about Baroness that made someone feel I had to be eliminated.” In his opinion, no dog is worth the money or the trouble, so the novel is about much more than a missing dog. People are dying, and it's unclear why. Resnick illustrates his character nicely where Paxton has dinner with a lovely divorcee associated with the case:
“Tell me, Eli,” she asked as I was deciding whether to impress her with my couth or to cover my plate with ketchup, “how does one become a detective?”
I opted for the ketchup. “In my case it was easy,” I said. “I got kicked off the Chicago Police Force a few years back, and decided that I was too old to retrain.”
To paraphrase Churchill, Paxton is a modest cop with much to be modest about. But he is reasonably intelligent, an honorable man, and an adequate lover in bed. The sex he and a lady friend have, he notes, is nothing you'll find described in the Kama Sutra. But he has two characteristics good P.I.s need, which are curiosity and persistence. They could get him killed (except that he tells his story in the first person), or they could get him to the bottom of some nasty business.
The dialog is clever and funny, the hero abashed and endearing. Mystery readers will find Dog in the Manger a light, quick read.