Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Chihuahua of the Baskervilles by Esri Allbritten
When Charlotte Baskerville, the owner of Petey's Closet, a company that designs clothes for small dogs, thinks she sees the ghost of her beloved Chihuahua, Petey, the staff of Tripping Magazine is dispatched to Manitou Springs, Colorado, to investigate. Tripping, a magazine that reports on travel destinations for those who believe in the paranormal, is edited by Angus MacGregor. Suki Oota, a former photographer for National Geographic, is the perfect person to set up shots of ghostly images. Michael Abernathy would be the new writer/graphic designer. And, since Tripping was actually about to fold, this would be their one chance to put the magazine in the black and attract readers.
When the team arrives in Manitou Springs, they find Charlotte surrounded by people who might not wish the best for her; a scheming husband who lost the family's first fortune, a granddaughter who drinks, a dog trainer with dreams of his own show, a designer who resents Charlotte's claim on her designs, and a neighbor who wants her to sponsor his dog food business. Any one of these people might have an interest in upsetting the older woman who hears and sees her late beloved dog. Angus and the team are there to write a story for the magazine about a ghostly apparition. But, they also have an interest in protecting the woman who sees Petey. Who better to investigate a ghost that seems to give advice and leaves paw prints than the team sent to cover its appearance?
Along with the story of Charlotte Baskerville and Petey, the team also finds time to cover the quirky town of Manitou Springs with its annual Emma Crawford Festival and Memorial Coffin Races, the haunted Miramont Castle, and a restaurant supposedly haunted. Petey's ghostly story is just one more story in a town that would definitely attract readers of Tripping Magazine. It's fun to watch the cynical magazine team explore Manitou Springs. These additional stories add to the charm of the book.
Chihuahua of the Baskervilles is a lively, fun story. Angus, Michael and Suki work well as a team, and they come at their story from different angles, which adds to the humor. But, Allbritten's debut is also a solid, well-written mystery. And, the ghost stories of Manitou Springs actually are tales from the history of the town. So, there are many possibilities for an investigating team that searches for ghosts and haunted destinations.
Allbritten's debut mystery offers a good mystery, a terrific team of sleuths, ghost stories, and a number of possibilities for future locations. I can't vote, but half-way through 2011, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles would be one of my nominees for the Agatha for Best First Mystery.
Esri Allbritten's website is www.EsriAllbritten.com
And, for actual information about the ghosts of Manitou Springs, check out Dark Destinations at
Chihuahua of the Baskervilles by Esri Allbritten. St. Martin's Minotaur. ©2011. ISBN 9780312569150 (hardcover), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.