The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

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The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

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Buy The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A satisfying crime procedural - the investigation of a series of brutal killings allows Detective Sergeant Natalya Stone and Detective Constable Zev Arendt to explore issues of racism, anti-semitism and homophobia in modern society. Flowing prose and intricate plotting add depth to this literary crime novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 188 Date: July 2020
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1506909448

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The greatest hatred, like the greatest virtue and the worst dogs, is silent.

The title of this enjoyable crime procedural, is from German romantic writer Jean Paul Richter. But who are the worst dogs in de Lacey Davidson's latest novel and for whom is the hatred? This mystery will last all the way to the very last and carefully plotted pages but you will be thinking about unwarranted hatred all the way through. It sounds uncomfortable - but it isn't: it's honest.

We're in Nova Scotia in the Canadian Maritimes and a woman is out jogging when she makes an horrific discovery - bodies, dismembered, burnt. The Detective Sergeant sent to investigate this crime is Natalya Stone, a black American police officer originally from Chicago. Local constable Zev Arendt - Jewish and gay - is assigned to assist her. Zev is intelligent and capable and keen to learn. Natalya is a little world weary but blunt and direct and terrifically good at her job. The small town of Feckless Bay is probably not ready for her - Murder's not an entertainment. It's filthy, malodorous she says to Zev, when he can't hold his stomach at the crime scene.

Very quickly, the detectives realise that these murders, and others, are likely the work of a serial killer and probably motivated by hate. But all their leads go nowhere and the case proves hard to solve. Along the way, Natalya tutors Zev in the skills a detective needs and the pair discuss the endemic racism, anti-semitism and homophobia they have encountered in both the US and Canada, as even their investigation throws up countless examples.

The Worst Dogs is a very satisfying read. The prose flows beautifully and with a poetic rhythm that draws you in. The mystery is a masterclass in painstaking investigative and interrogation techniques. And the relationship between Natalya and Zev is wonderful to read - by turns prickly and supportive, educative and friendly. And the political discussion underpinning it all is an important one - hate crime isn't the only form of hate minorities encounter, something we should all think about and not just when horrific crimes occur. The plotting is wonderful as it twists and turns through wasted lead after wasted lead but, in the end, Natalya's methods, and her teaching of them, break the case.

I'd have liked the exemplar minor characters - the far right activist with his vile jokes and the ludicrous Elvis-worshipping mayor - to have been written with a little more subtlety so that they weren't caricatures - but this is little more than a nitpick and my only criticism.

If you like a good crime procedural and also social issues, you'll like The Worst Dogs. A progressive murder mystery, indeed.

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Buy The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder-Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson at Amazon.com.

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