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Dogs, bears and meerkats

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

What do dogs, bears and meerkats have in common? Well, usually not that much, but in this review they all are surrounded by mystery and murder. Three authors have woven stories around these animals, and it may be hard to recognize the leading characters, because as you know, children and animals tend to steal the show.

I enjoyed sharing a dog's point of view along with runaway Chase Ryder and grieving veterinarian Sully, in "Wanted." In this first book by K.J. Corgan of the Chase Ryder series, we find the dog in a compromising position while wrestling a man for a bone. Chase recognizes the signs of hunger and sides with the dog. Hitting the man on the side of the head with a trash can, she yells to the dog to run. And run they do, until totally exhausted and more hungry than ever. What Chase realizes almost instantly is that this is no ordinary dog. Because of his growing ability for stealing food, she names him Bandit.

The mystery contains revelations of Bandit's creation in a scientific lab, a street fight with a thug where Chase is saved but Bandit is injured and a veterinarian who comes out of a stupor of grief to help them. Then there are the bodies left behind, as protecting themselves on the run becomes hazardous. The staccato voice of the writer reminds me of those old private detectives that lead the story in crisp sentences and moderated emotions. A "just the facts ma'am" kind of writing which made it fun. Both humans and the dog reveal layers of character development on their journey. Bandit was my favorite. He will amaze you.

In "The Boy Who Cried Bear," the reader is dropped into the middle of the vast Yukon wilderness. A group of people have built a haven for individuals desperate to step away from civilization. Ironically, they seek peace from danger as the author Jo Ho designs a compact forest community surrounded by dense trees, wolves, bobcats and grizzly bears.

When 10-year-old Max spots a grizzly stalking him and a group of hikers, the story takes a strange turn. Max swears the grizzly walks upright and has human eyes. Of course the adults believe that second part as a figment of his imagination. But is It? When Max disappears in a possible abduction, things get worse. Then the murder of someone in town makes people question everything. Can the community work together to save Max, capture a murderer, stop a grizzly and restore their communal security?

"The Meerkat Murders" by K.J. Corgan reveals an unexpected terror within the numerous meerkat dens of the Kalahari desert, Africa. Modern technology is used to research, track and record life of the feral meerkats. Though the murder of the expedition leader is by a different predator, it's the meerkats that need the most watching. Those darling meerkats that strike such an impressive standing pose encompass an unexpected trait. Did you know that meerkats are the most homicidal mammals amongst 1000 other species? Geologist and main human character Kea Wright didn't know that either.

Fortunately meerkats do not murder humans. But other humans do, and by the second death Kea has a hard time figuring out who amongst them is murderous and why? What is the real motive? A hurricane force storm crashes through, creating flash flooding in the normally dry desert sands. The work crew and scientists must quickly unweave a tangled web of clues that lead them in circles during a devastating mass slaughtering of meerkats.

Three different groups of characters and animals take their place in these murders and mysteries. It's fun to mix things up a little from the numerous cozy mysteries offered up these days. A dog with abnormal intelligence, a bear with human eyes and the adorable and precious meerkat provide unique ways to bring about unexpected storylines.

Do you love mysteries and like to solve them? It's refreshing to have an unexpected group of antagonizers and heroes. Life sometimes can use a bit of mixing up as well. To keep things interesting, to keep life from stagnating. It's challenging to travel with fiction writing to new places and make observations of factual scientific progress. Perhaps the best thing for readers is expanding our imagination horizons, so when real advances come flying past and our world changes in an instant, we can embrace them like the stories we read, and know how to flow.

Good Books. Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.