The nicest thing about reading the book Dial C for Chihuahua by Waverly Curtis is the glow you feel afterward toward the charming hero dog, Pepe. Of course, the writing is rich and the plotting is dynamic but the relationship the main character Geri has with Pepe is a remarkable one of respect and affection.
This is a book for pet lovers who like a good laugh and a light but rewarding read.
Pepe is after all a talking dog. And one with mucha character. He is also a rescue dog, brought up from California. Geri is recently divorced and having trouble establishing a career in “staging” houses for resale, now that the housing market has slowed down.
She takes a leap and accepts a job as a private investigator.
With Pepe by her side, she is called to investigate a missing person, and unwittingly finds the dead body of a Seattle millionaire, and gets framed for his murder. Pepe’s vast and sometimes improbable expertise in everything, gets Geri going again and together they get more deeply pulled into the local Seattle mystery.
Don’t be put off by the bright colors on the cover. The book inside trucks along with such careful crafting that I found myself getting up at 5 am to finish the last chapters. There is a great deal of subtle humor in the effect of Pepe speaking only to Geri.
The love and care the authors take result in all the animal characters having real and empathetic personalities. Cats are not disregarded, as Geri also owns a cat named Albert. And there is something touching in the way that Geri’s new boyfriend, aims to understand human behavior from his work with animals. Maybe that is the underlying message to readers, that animals still have much to teach us humans.
And the humans in Dial C for Chihuahua have many flaws. There is Geri of course. Her boss, Jimmy G of the Gerrard Detective agency, is crusty on the outside but we get to know that he is really one with a dream. Then there are some humans that fall on the outside parameters of pleasant, like Geri’s judging sister and Geri’s ex-husband.
No matter how many shadows these characters have over Geri, Pepe really lights up her life. Underneath all the story, are very strong descriptions that wonderfully capture Seattle in its uniqueness. From scenes set in Lake Union and across the floating bridge to the Eastside, you get a sense of what a watery and beautiful place Seattle really is. Geri’s vintage-decorated condo and Rebecca Tyler’s polished mansion also make for great contrasts.
Animal lovers will cherish this book for the affection between Geri and her animals and the way a special pet can make life seem a whole lot better. As she says, Pepe’s enthusiasm for life is catching. That sense of camaraderie will keep you reading this delightful, well-written, mystery.
by Janis Wildy