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Collared: A Gin & Tonic Mystery    by L. A. Kornetsky order for
by L. A. Kornetsky
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2012 (2012)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Ginny Mallard operates a private concierge business but she gets in a little over her head when she agrees to try to find the uncle and business partner of a Seattle real estate man who has suddenly gone missing with some important papers.

Although she is really good at research, Ginny knows her people skills are her shortcoming. That's where Teddy Tonica, the bartender at her local pub, comes in. Ginny convinces Teddy to partner with her on the assignment. His ability to make people feel at ease and then spill their guts will be a valuable asset in finding the missing man.

Author L.A. Kornetsky manages to create an edgy relationship between his two protagonists that holds the story together and makes the unfolding investigation with its complications worth reading. It quickly becomes obvious this duo has stirred up a hornet's nest and while one group of heavies want them to succeed so they can lay their hands on the documents the missing man supposedly has, another set of bad dudes has other plans.

The story flows smoothly but, unfortunately, the ending does not pack the punch one would think the excellent lead-up to it merits. Not only is the grand finale a letdown but, logically, there are also some questions that arise that the author doesn't address. I'm avoiding going into detail because that would totally ruin the story.

Another aspect of this new series relates to the protagonists' two pets, a cat and a dog. The animals, especially the dog, are present throughout the story and at times they carry on conversations with one another. Fortunately, the humans are not privy to these asides. This isn't one of those novels where the precocious four footed sidekicks advise their humans and factor directly into the story's outcome.

They may add kawaii (Japanese word for cult of cute) to the proceedings, but Georgie (the dog) and Mistress Penny-Drops (the cat) aren't really pivotal players in the proceedings. Perhaps the title is a play on the pets' and their owners' ability to succeed in unmasking the bad guys, but that's not reason enough to include them.

Tighter plotting and a more defined role for Georgie and Penny might be a splendid idea as this series moves ahead. There is certainly potential here but at this point the jury is still out. To become a successful series, the Gin & Tonic mysteries need a lot more suspense and a little less K-9 and feline cuteness!

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