Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review of Dog Day by Alicia Giménez Bartlett (Europa Editions, 2006; Spanish 1999)

When a man is found badly beaten, Inspector Petra Delicado and Sergeant Garzon are assigned to the case.  At first they find it difficult to identify him, but then discover his apartment and the man’s ugly dog, which Delicado fosters and names ‘Freaky’.  Soon after the victim dies due to his injuries and Delicado and Garzon are drawn into the economy of dogs – vets, groomers, pet detectives, trainers, breeders, experimenters, smugglers, psychologists – along the way starting new romances.  However, while their social lives improve, solving the case proves more taxing.

Set in Barcelona, Dog Day is a kind of hybrid hardboiled/cozy, police procedural.  Inspector Petra Delicado is a twice-divorced, 40-something cop who is only interested in no-strings relationships.  Her work partner is widower, Sergeant Garzon, who after a long and unhappy marriage rediscovers dating.  The story is concerned as much with their personal and work relationship and their respective love lives as it is about the case they are investigating – the death of a dog thief.  The mystery aspect of the tale felt a little underwhelming, mainly because it was too telegraphed and the two detectives were too dumb to think of the obvious and to see what was clear to the reader.  Moreover, far too little of the narrative was devoted to the dog Delicado fosters, Freaky, or the dogs of the other characters.  The result was a story with an interesting focus, but which spent more time detailing the character interactions and development than the case.

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