Unleashed {Book Review}

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I was not compensated for writing this review. I received a review copy of Unleashed to facilitate my review. My opinions are 100% honest and 100% mine.

Unleashed

by Eileen Brady

on Tour September 2015

Synopsis:

cover

Dr. Kate Turner is happy with her new life in Oak Falls, upstate New York. Working as a relief veterinarian at a small house-call practice, she truly enjoys helping her patients.

All that changes when client Claire Birnham is found dead, an apparent suicide. A talented artist, Claire had everything to live for: new job, Manhattan apartment, her Cairn terrier Toto. As feisty as the Wizard of Oz Toto, he and Claire were devoted. Kate can’t imagine Claire simply abandoning her pet. Was her death murder?

Questions end in the police arresting young kennel helper Eugene. The fragile friendship between Kate and police officer Luke Gianetti frays as she ignores his advice and keeps asking questions. House calls provide gossip and clues, some helpful, some not so much, as she treats her animal patients. Did Claire’s recent insurance windfall prove too tempting for her hard working and hard drinking mother? What does trouble in the art gallery where Claire worked signal? How huge a grudge did heavy metal rocker A.J. hold against high-school sweetheart Claire after she dumped him? Was Claire a threat to AJ’s rich new girl?

Dr. Kate mixes real medicine with murder as she risks her life over Claire’s death, aided by insights from a former fire investigator, aka her Gramps. Unleashed is as irresistible as Muzzled.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Number of Pages: 272

Series: Kate Turner, DVM #2

ISBN: 9781464203947

Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

After kicking my cheating boyfriend to the curb I needed to find a job far far away from him.

Quickly. With $150,000 worth of student loans left to pay for my veterinary education, I couldn’t afford to be without an income. That’s how I ended up in the tiny town of Oak Falls, about two hours from New York City if you put the pedal to the metal, but light years away from the crowds. Hired as a relief vet while the practice owner, Doc Anderson, took an around-the-world cruise, I lived in an apartment attached to the office. At least it was a short commute.

Now, seven months of house calls later, I thought I had seen just about everything.

I was wrong.

Friday morning, my veterinary technician, Mari, and I piled into the office F-150 truck and drove to our first appointment of the day. Seventy-two Chestnut Lane turned out to be an older farmhouse-style home on an acre of land that bordered the state park. Mature elms created a canopy over the front walkway, lined by low-lying junipers and daylilies. A pretty setting, but we were there to take care of a sick pug whose owner had called for an early morning appointment.

An attractive young woman in her twenties with light brown hair and a gentle face opened the door. “Are you the vet?”

Nodding, I introduced myself. “Yes, I’m Dr. Kate Turner and this is my assistant, Mari.”

“Nancy Wagner. Come in.” She stepped aside. “Don’t let anyone out.”

Both Mari and I are masters at not letting dogs, cats, or any other type of pet escape through exits of any kind. Watching carefully, we snuck through the door, using our legs like goalies at a soccer game to block anyone trying to flee.

Nancy watched us close the door. Satisfied none of her pets had gotten out, she led us down a fairly narrow hallway.

Unfortunately our progress abruptly stopped when a large gray and white pot-bellied pig with a pink nose turned the corner, effectively throwing a block.

Oops.

Could the sick pug we were supposed to be seeing actually be a sick pig? Had our receptionist Cindy made an interesting typing mistake?

“Is this the patient?” I asked.

“Yes. This is my Angel. He’s almost a year old and he’s got a terrible rash on his belly.”

Just because veterinarians treat all kinds of animals doesn’t mean we have every species’ medical problems right at our fingertips. Luckily, I knew quite a bit about pot-bellied pigs. During vet school several had come into the university’s small animal clinic with various problems. I’d also gone on farm calls to a pot-bellied pig breeder, and babysat one named Daisy for a friend for a month. Most of the pigs I’d handled were gentle and surprisingly smart.

“All right. Where can I examine him?”

“I guess we could use the living room.” Nancy made a kissing sound and the pig turned and trotted off behind her. My guess was he had the run of this part of the house.

Without much trouble Angel rolled over on his back and presented us his belly to scratch. A diffuse red rash spread across the pale, almost hairless skin on his abdomen and halfway up both sides. The lack of any raised diamond shaped lesions or pustules quickly ruled out some of the bad pig diseases — which left anything from fungal to contact dermatitis to a million other things. To be certain I took several skin scrapings which Angel seemed to enjoy.

“Is he healthy otherwise? How is his appetite?”

“Perfectly normal.”

Maybe this was a husbandry problem, having to do with diet or his environment.

Mari, Nancy, and I sat on the wooden floor. Angel loved having his belly rubbed and grunted with pleasure. I listened to his heart and lungs and continued my exam. “What are you feeding him?”

Nancy pointed over to the kitchen counter. “He gets his pig chow plus vegetables and fruits, and some of what I eat every day. Then I let him root around in the yard outside.”

Since pigs are omnivores, which means they eat everything, it sounded like a fairly balanced diet. Except for the rash he looked like a healthy piggy. Digging a little deeper I questioned her further. “Did you spread any chemicals or fertilizers outside recently, or add any new plants or trees?”

“Absolutely not. I’m very careful because of all my pets.” Nancy sounded indignant.

“What about his sleeping pen?” Since our animal patients can’t talk to us, I found taking a detailed history is of huge importance. “Do you change the hay frequently? Is there any evidence of mouse or rat infiltration in his stall?” Skin lesions could be a result of moldy hay or damp unsanitary conditions.

His concerned owner continued to stroke Angel’s belly. “I’m sure everything is fine. I don’t have any skin problems.”

Not sure if she understood I tried to reassured her. “From a preliminary look, I don’t think this is contagious to people, but I’m curious if it has something to do with where he sleeps.

Again she looked up at me, eyes wide. “He sleeps with me.”

For a moment I thought she sometimes camped in the backyard.

Mari subtly nudged me with her elbow.

I persisted. “Where exactly does Angel sleep at night?”

“In bed. With me,” Nancy said in a matter-of-fact voice, as though everyone sleeps with their pig.

That’s when a rooster walked into the room. Brightly feathered, brown and black with a red comb, he strutted past us, barely glancing at the pig on the floor. “Hi, Tommy,” Nancy said to the chicken.

Mari poked me again and whispered, “That’s odd.”

I was there to figure out what was wrong with Angel, not the owner, so continued. “Does he sleep on top of the bed?”

“No. Under the sheets. He gets cold at night.” she explained, “Besides, he likes to cuddle.”

Picturing her spooning with her pig seemed all wrong. I kept going.

“Have you changed your detergent or fabric softener?” Since pigs have sensitive skin I went with one of the most common causes of rashes — contact dermatitis.

Nancy frowned and pursed her lips. “Oh my gosh. I changed my fabric softener to Lavender Fields right around the time I noticed the rash. Do you think that might be it?”

“It certainly could be a cause. Would you be able to wash him with a hypoallergenic shampoo?”

“Sure, Angel likes taking showers with me.”

Of course he did. Another place I didn’t want to go.

“Great. Mari will get the pet shampoo for you. Follow the directions and wash all the linen and whatever else he comes in contact with in hot water. Use your regular detergent but skip the fabric softener. If that’s the cause of his skin condition you should see a difference in about ten days. Meanwhile, we’ll call you with the results of our tests. There may be some other type of diagnostics to run, depending on how he responds.”

Angel rolled over, then pulled himself up onto his relatively slender feet. I noticed a large doggy door leading out into the backyard. As we watched, the pig aimed his snout into the door flap, pushed it open, then squeezed through.

“Thanks so much, doctor,” Nancy said, relief in her voice. “I was worried it might be something serious.” She hesitated for a moment. “Do I have to wash Tommy, too?”

For a moment I was confused. “Who is Tommy?”

“My rooster.” She smiled a sweet smile. “He sleeps with me too.”

* * *

After saying goodbye and getting into the truck, Mari couldn’t hold it in. She laughed her butt off. What exactly was going on in that house? I wasn’t sure. Nancy appeared to be a normal person, but lonely. Maybe her surrogate animal family filled the gaps in her life. The animals were healthy and well looked after, so who was I to judge her? After all, I talked to my dog Buddy, and he often slept at the bottom of the bed. During thunderstorms I let him crawl under the blankets. Whatever gets you through the day. Still, I couldn’t imagine sleeping with sharp piggy hooves in the bed with me.

“Is there a Mr. Nancy in the picture?” I wondered, turning the corner onto Scenic Drive.

“No such luck.” Mari entered something into the laptop. “She confided in me that she doesn’t get that many second dates.”

I tried not to crack a smile. “Gee, I wonder why?”

An hour later we arrived back at the animal hospital and I immediately looked at the skin samples. Everything checked out fine, no nasty scabies or demodex mites, no yeast or any of the other common skin problems that might cause a rash. Knowing Nancy would be worried I called her back while writing up my records.

“Thanks, Dr. Kate. I’ll give you an update in two weeks. She took a moment, then continued, “Why don’t you check out my Facebook page and follow the link to our website and my blog?”

Six o’clock rolled around before I had an opportunity to go into Doc’s office to check my email. For curiosity’s sake I looked up Nancy on Facebook.

To my surprise there were lots of postings on her page and a professional looking link to her website. When I clicked on it I got another surprise. Nancy wrote a blog about her pets and her life, a pretty popular blog, and now I was part of it.

Obviously taken from an overhead cam, the posted picture caught me rubbing Angel’s tummy. It was a toss-up who sported the bigger grin, me or the pig.

(Continues…)

Author Bio:

author

Eileen Brady is a veterinarian living in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a wife and mother of two daughters and often has to chase her six cats and two dogs away from her laptop keyboard. The Kate Turner, DVM Mysteries is her first series.

Catch Up:
author's website author's facebook

My review of Unleashed

Love, love, LOVE! This book consumed my weekend, let me tell you. What a treat! A fun, breezy mystery with delightful characters and a fun storyline. Well, fun, if you consider investigating a murder fun, which I do.

Unleashed is called a “cozy mystery,” which is the perfect characterization. It is absolutely cozy. In no time, you feel like you don’t just know Dr. Kate, you like her, you’re even friendly with her. There’s a real sense of…familiarity, if you will, with her character. It’s very easy to see the events through her eyes, which really gets you involved in the story.

As for the story, yes, yes, yes! It’s clever and intriguing but not overly complicated. I could imagine myself investigating the murder, and hopefully reaching the same conclusion as Dr. Kate. As far as the veterinary angle? Love it! I am a dog lover so the animal angle was right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Kate’s discussion of her practice, patients, and house calls. (Speaking of which, where are all the vets who do house calls?)

There are so many adjectives I can use to describe this book — fun, delightful, upbeat, carefree, refreshing — which is a nice change of pace from the typical gritty, hardcore mysteries. Unleashed won’t make you lose sleep, except for when you don’t want to put it down. The Dr. Kate series is a series that I will easily become a fan of…I look forward to reading the first installment and any others that come my way.

An interview with Eileen Brady!

Is the Kate Turner series the first book you ever tried to write?

No. The first book I wrote was a children’s picture book, about my youngest daughter’s stuffed animal. I also illustrated it. That was fun for our whole family, and it won a prize at the San Francisco Writer’s conference. I’m thinking of submitting it to an agent soon.

Did you find it easy to write about a veterinarian, because of your background?

I have to admit that my veterinarian, Kate Turner, was easy for me to write. When I started the first book in the series, MUZZLED, I had a clear vision of her in my mind. We have some things in common, but I wrote her taller, blonder and able to eat anything she wants and not gain weight. Hey, it’s fiction, right?

Do you have any plans to branch out and write other books that don’t feature a veterinarian character?

Right now I’m toying around with a second series, a thriller, which would have a male detective as the lead character. I’d have to get in touch with my masculine side and steal some characteristics from all the men in my life. I’m also a book reviewer for Mystery Scene Magazine which gives me the opportunity to read many different mystery genres.

Who is your favorite author? What type of influence did they play on your writing?

My all-time favorite author is Agatha Christie. During veterinary school I read and re-read every one of her books. I enjoyed seeing how she seeded her clues and red herrings in a very subtle way throughout the books. Of course, my favorite character was Miss Marple. I think she influenced me to dig deep into the mystery and try to surprise the reader at the end.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? Was it something you’d always wanted to do? 

One of the things I enjoy the most is reading, so I think deciding to write a book came out of that. My older sister is a published writer, so I did have a positive role model at an early age. I started seriously writing when my daughters were in high school and I had a little more free time. Luckily we had a novel writing course at the community college here in Scottsdale, Arizona, and that jump-started me on my writing career.

How do you find time to write with your busy life? What advice would you give aspiring writers who can’t carve out big chunks of time to write?

Well, Steven King said you have to cut back on watching television, and I’ve found that is true for me. I make myself sit down and write every day, even if it is for only an hour at a time. I know someone who wrote 1 page a day, and at the end of the year she had a book!! I’d tell aspiring writers to just begin and keep on until you finish. You can always fix your mistakes during rewrites. Also, joining a critique group was one of my best decisions.

What is in Kate Turner’s future? Do you have ideas for future books mapped out, or do you come up with ideas as you write?

Thanks for asking – and I do have the next 2 books mapped out in my head. Usually I concentrate on the beginning and the end. The rest of the book is pretty spontaneous, and most of the times I let the characters lead the way. Sometimes they don’t cooperate, though. In my latest book, UNLEASHED, my character just stuck in her heels and refused to commit the crime. I had to change the killer mid-stream. But I see Kate continuing to go on hilarious house calls with some eccentric clients while mixing real veterinary medicine with murder.

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Eileen Brady & Poisoned Pen Press. There will be one U.S. winner of a box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Unleashed by Eileen Brady. The giveaway ends September 31.

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