The Portrait of Doreene Gray
A Chihuahua Mystery
by Esri Allbritten
Are you interested in the paranormal? Are your favorite entities spooks, specters, and Sasquatch? Is your idea of a perfect vacation a week in a ghost town instead of a cruise to Hawaii or the Mediterranean? If so, then the staff of Tripping, an indie magazine dedicated to paranormal investigations, has the place for you- Port Townsend, Washington. Why go there? Because the town is full of mystery and weirdness that surrounds the portrait of Doreene Gray.
Just as Oscar Wilde’s character Dorian Gray, in the book entitled The Portrait of Dorian Gray, doesn’t age because of a portrait painted of him, neither does Doreene seem to age. Her twin sister painted a portrait of her when she was young, and now though chronologically 65 years of age, she looks to be in her early 30s. What is the secret of this portrait? Is it really magical? I should probably mention here that her sister, Maureene, the portrait’s painter, looks every bit of 65 years old. (How unfair is that?)
The team of Tripping, consisting of a whole 3 person staff, head to Port Townsend to find out. Angus MacGregor is the editor and he does not like facts. In fact (Ha!), he is not above leaving out important details so the readership really believes something eerie and unusual occurs. Michael is the arrogant writer who keeps threatening to leave the other two stranded by quitting. Suki is the Goth girl photographer who seems to be more intelligent that her companions. She comes with an attitude.
The famous painting of Doreene Gray is now up for auction and the troubles begin. Doreene keeps her portrait locked in a separate room in her walk-in closet. There she talks to her portrait and cuts out odd bits of paper and pastes them on the portrait with make-up foundation. One bit she “glues” on is a small picture of her sister, Maureene. What in heaven’s name for? All of a sudden everyone wants to see that portrait, but when Doreene offers an unveiling during a press conference only Max Thorne, the art auctioneer, is allowed to see it.
Doreene is pushy, crass, demanding, entitled, and spoiled. She has a boy toy from Brazil named Reynaldo who is a hunk. Sister Maureene in the meantime lives in a cottage on the property not the huge Victorian mansion that Doreene reigns in as queen. The odd thing was is that the house was willed to Maureene. Doreene’s Chihuahua, Gigi, is yappy and spoiled. (Sorry, Mr. Pete. She is not available.) The housekeeper, Lupita, is very superstitious.
The crew of Tripping is reluctantly invited to stay at the mansion and they start their snooping. Lots of interesting pieces to the puzzle are found, but they don’t have up to a full picture. Weird things begin to occur in relation to the sale of the portrait. Pieces of paper with words on them end up in the soup. A bald-headed man has stationed himself in front of the mansion in a white Impala, monitoring the goings on. Later he is seen to be heading to Maureene’s cottage. A young woman appears out of nowhere and Gigi is being neglected in the midst of all this and needs to go to do her business. Doreene turns up dead in her locked closet room and her famous portrait is missing.
You have all you need to enjoy a funny and odd, I won’t say paranormal yet, mystery. There are many twists and turns. With the help of Angus, Michael, and Suki, Detective Kroger spearheads an investigative team bent on solving the mystery.
Ms. Allbritten has written a first Chihuahua novel, entitled The Chihuahua of the Baskervilles. I picked that one up randomly a couple of years ago. I am not a fan of dogs or cats solving mysteries, but since we have a spoiled, evil Chi, I picked up the book. I really loved it. This is the second book. I enjoyed it as well, not quite as much as her first, but this was a fun read. In this book we get a better look at the Tripping threesome and they are great characters. Go Suki!