OK, so this talking Mexican dog who’s also a private eye walks into a lawyer’s office …
Yes, we’re headed into a joke, and a book-length one at that: Waverly Curtis’ “The Chihuahua Always Sniffs Twice” (Kensington, 308 pp., $7.99 paperback original).
“Waverly Curtis” is, in fact, two local residents wearing the thinnest of veils: writers/publishers/writing teachers Waverly Fitzgerald and Curt Colbert.
The book is the fourth in their “Barking Detective” series (not counting an e-book short) starring Seattle private investigator Geri Sullivan and a motormouth Chihuahua named Pepe.
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Geri is the chief narrator (and the only human who can hear her partner). But Pepe is the undisputed star. He’s such a diva — high-strung, smart and given to hopeless romantic crushes on other dogs.
He sprinkles Spanish words into his conversational outbursts, which can reach levels of melodrama that are virtually operatic. He claims to have once worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico.
And he does stuff like ordering an iPad online (without Geri’s permission). He figures he’ll be able to control the touch screen with one paw.
Geri is a newly minted operative working for a seedy private eye named Jimmy G. Jimmy G has a wardrobe like a fictional ’40s gumshoe, a malleable moral code and a really, really irritating habit of referring to himself in the third person.
His assignment for Geri and Pepe sends them to Port Townsend on an odd mission: an elderly, wealthy widow has died and left a fortune to her dogs. The widow’s human heirs, not surprisingly, are furious, and a legal battle ensues. Then the attorney acting as the widow’s trustee is murdered, followed shortly by the lawyer representing the other side.
Meanwhile, someone’s out to poison the dogs. Then Geri and Pepe become targets themselves. And it soon becomes clear that obnoxious Jimmy G has an agenda of his own.
(Geri and Pepe’s investigation involves, among other things, a foray to the annual Lavender Festival in nearby Sequim. This has inspired the authors to include a couple of lavender-infused recipes at the back of the book, just for the hell of it.)
Playing supporting roles are a hunky veterinarian, a shady judge, a couple of fussy B&B owners, a cranky organic farmer and assorted other Peninsula eccentrics — not the least of them an artist who specializes in deeply disturbing black-velvet paintings of costumed dogs with the faces of human babies.
Jimmy G shouldn’t be the only one who gets to refer to himself in the third person, so: Your reviewer has previously called the Barking Detective series “light as a feather and a whole lot of fun.” He sees no need at all to revise that opinion.
Adam Woog’s column on crime and mystery fiction appears on the second Sunday of the month in The Seattle Times.