Monday, August 06, 2007

"Clicker Training", by Parnell Hall

From: Canine Christmas, ed. Jeffrey Marks, Ballantine Books, 1999
(also available at

With their son away on a school trip to France, Stanley Hastings and his better half, Alice, have Christmas to themselves for the first time in years. Rather than sit around their apartment in New York, they decide on a trip to a bed-and-breakfast in the scenic Vermont countryside, and they take along their other child, Zelda.

Did I mention Zelda is a dog?

And not only a dog, but a Portugese water dog, and a well-trained one at that, as she and Alice demonstrated to the guests. As it happened, Zelda soon turned out to have the same detetecting instincts as her private eye "father", Stanley.

Because the next morning she stumbled over a corpse.

This slight but entertaining story is more a traditional puzzle than most of the Stanley Hastings mysteries, which mix elements of the whodunit and PI genres (along with a healthy dose of humor). Stanley fumbles through in his usual manner, helped along by his intelligent and perceptive wife Alice.

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