Title: The Case of the Invisible Dog (A Shirley Homes Mystery)
Author: Diane Stingley
Date of Publication: May 19, 2015
Published by: Alibi
In the start of a charmingly imaginative cozy series sure to delight fans of Carolyn Hart and Diane Mott Davidson, Diane Stingley introduces a blundering detective who believes herself to be the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.
After failing to launch her career as a Hollywood actress, Tammy Norman returns home to North Carolina, desperate for a regular paycheck and a new lease on life. So she accepts a position assisting Shirley Homes, an exceptionally odd personage who styles herself after her celebrated “ancestor”–right down to the ridiculous hat. Tammy isn’t sure how long she can go on indulging the delusional Shirley (who honestly believes Sherlock Holmes was a real person!), but with the prospect of unemployment looming, she decides to give it a shot.
Tammy’s impression of her eccentric boss does not improve when their first case involves midnight romps through strangers’ yards in pursuit of a phantom dog—that only their client can hear. But when the case takes a sudden and sinister turn, Tammy has to admit that Shirley Homes might actually be on to something. . . .
One of my favorite book characters is the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. I have the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories purportedly written by Dr. Watson, but in reality authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can read them repeatedly and enjoy them each time. As far as I have known, he is a fictional character. But did you know that he was a real person? I didn’t either until I read this book and heard the truth from the mouth of Shirley Homes herself.
In case you have haven’t heard of Shirley Homes let me tell you who she is. She is the key person in this book and she insists that that she is the great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. He was a real person, according to her, but Dr. Watson’s stories made him look like a work of fiction. Soon the real Sherlock Holmes faded out of existence as people read these stories.
For some reason, no one believes her declaration about being Sherlock’s real life descendent. What do you think?
Shirley Homes decides to open her own detective agency in the small town of Springville. She even has Sherlock’s famous hat. (Or is it a replica?) She places an ad for a receptionist in the local paper. She does not get any takers until one Miss Tammy Norman answers the ad out of desperation. She doesn’t know what she’s in for.
Tammy has had an unsuccessful stint in Los Angeles trying to break into movies and stardom. Realizing that it wasn’t going to happen she returns to Springville. She sees a therapist whose name is interestingly similar to Dr. Phil McGraw’s. Phil McGuire never does get Tammy to tell him what’s really going on in her head and she doesn’t listen to his advice. She gets fired as a receptionist and then goes to work in a restaurant and hates it. Just about out of money and definitely out of work, Tammy finds the strange ad asking for a receptionist and decides to apply. There is an added incentive as this Shirley Homes is paying big bucks to the person who gets the job.
Tammy is granted an interview and a strange one it is. She finds no one in the office and finds herself sitting there looking at the walls. Bored and exasperated, she finally decides to knock on the inner office door out of frustration. At the same time out comes an unusual woman with a propensity for using large words and a lot of them. Shirley hires Tammy right away, but gives her no clue as to what her duties are. It seems that Tammy’s only job is to keep the office plant alive.
Shirley is waiting for their first case for a long time and suddenly a nervous Matt Peterman enters the office with great trepidation. Matt is a dumpy insurance agent who swears that he is being driven crazy by an invisible dog. He does not like dogs and the barking occurs at night. He feels he is losing his mind as this barking is making him nervous and causing severe insomnia. He decides that that these two women are nuts and attempts to leave the office, but Shirley is an overbearing personality and he’s cornered. He reluctantly accepts their assistance and as the saying goes, the game is afoot.
Shirley insists that her assistant Tammy has a common mind while hers is superior. As the story goes along, you have to determine for yourself who is the smart one is. And you also have to figure out if Shirley is nuts or if Tammy is for continuing to work for Shirley.
Disappearing people, a murdered Matt Peterman, the invisible dog, a sickening sweet couple who are Matt’s neighbors, a couple of disbelieving Springville police detectives, Shirley’s unusual disguises, a woman pretending to be Shirley’s former psychiatrist, and Myra, Shirley’s portly sister, all tossed in together make for a funny mystery to solve.
I enjoyed the chance to read this book. I even read it by using a Kindle for the first time. I am an old fashioned girl who likes the feel and smell of books, but reading an e-book was pretty cool. I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5 only because it went on a little too long. I loved Shirley’s wackiness and Tammy’s “common mind.” I would venture to say that the next time Shirley and Tammy get involved in a case; I would like to read about it.
Try this book for yourself, and by all means let me know if you think Shirley is just a nut, or if she really is the great-great granddaughter of my hero Sherlock Holmes.
About Diane Stingley
Diane Stingley is the author of Dress You Up in My Love and I’m With Cupid. She was also a columnist for The Charlotte Observer and received e-mails from around the country in response to her columns. She currently resides in North Carolina and is hard at work on the next Shirley Homes mystery.
Diane Stingley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 11th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, May 11th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, May 12th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, May 13th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 14th: Mama Vicky Says
Monday, May 18th: Priscilla and Her Books
Monday, May 18th: Bell, Book & Candle
Tuesday, May 19th: Book Babe
Wednesday, May 20th: Reading Reality
Monday, May 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, May 26th: Open Book Society
Wednesday, May 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, May 28th: For the Love of Fictional Worlds
Monday, June 1st: A Book Geek
Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, June 8th: Staircase Wit
Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired