Set in the aptly named fictional town of Feckless Bay, The Worst Dogs is Matthew de Lacey Davidson’s first mystery novel. And, as mystery novels go, the story is a good one, but not without its faults. More on that later.
The story begins with the remains of three bodies (one is only an arm) being found by a jogger on a morning run. The police are alerted and the lead investigator is Detective Sergeant Natalya Stone, an African-American detective originally from Chicago. Assisting her is the local Detective Constable Zev Arendt, who is Jewish. Together they make a formidable pair, the somewhat jaded experienced Stone and the younger, but intelligent Arendt, who is willing to learn all he can from Stone. This is Zev’s first homicide as not much happens in Feckless Bay. Nevertheless, these murders, who have all the markings of a hate crime, expose the community’s racial divides. “On a scale of one to ten, I would give it a fifteen,” Stone tells Arendt.
The Worst Dogs is a gripping read, and the reader feels the frustration of the two detectives as they have bodies, but little evidence of who in the community would have committed such atrocities (which mirror Holocaust crimes). The local white supremacist leader is questioned. The Rabbi is interviewed, a wealthy local woman who gathers information about the Holocaust and gives educational talks in schools and elsewhere is consulted. Then there are strange goings-on in the senior care home. The two detectives have their hands full and they have limited resources as well.
Racism is the main storyline of The Worst Dogs. It is in the reader’s face throughout, and there are racial epithets (and its accompanying profanity) to be endured. Some of it is stereotypical (such as the pairing of a Black female detective with a “bi-curious” Jewish man) and other times more subtle (“Oh, you must be here to apply for the maid’s position” a butler says upon opening the door to DS Stone) but it exists in abundance in the predominantly white community of Feckless Bay.
Racial slurs and profanity aside, The Worst Dogs is a good murder mystery and one can anticipate that the formidable team of Stone and Arendt will soon pair up again. A Miramichi Reader “Pick”!
About the author: Matthew de Lacey Davidson is the author of two poetry collections, “Please Don’t Forget Me” and “What Souls Might Bear;” a play in verse, “What Really Counts;” a collection of short stories entitled, “Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales;” and a historical novel about civil rights leader Frederick Douglass’ first trip to Ireland, “Precept.” “Precept” was voted one of the top ten self-published books of 2018 by thebookbag.co.uk. He has had poems, articles, cartoons, and short stories published in the online literary journals, “The Junction,” “Pickle Fork,” “The Post-Grad Survival Guide,” “The Writing Cooperative” (on “Medium.com”); and in the online literary journal, “Danse Macabre”. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with his wife, Shayna, and a plethora of Siamese and Tonkinese cats.
- The Worst Dogs: A Progressive Murder Mystery by Matthew de Lacey Davidson
- Paperback : 194 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1506909448
- Publisher : First Edition Design Publishing (July 11 2020)
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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.