Behind the scenes of the suburbs we know, life is regulated by the laws of the Central Canine Government, run by a bicameral legislature and President, funded by “puppy allocation”, kept up to date by regular Squirrel Incident Reports, and enforced by Bulldog Police.
Casey, a Labrador Retriever, is a popular junior Senator and head of the Committee of Inter-Canine Communication, and her career seems to be on the fast track to success. However, suddenly threats to her safe world are accumulating - Yorkies are disappearing from WestTown, the dogs’ suburban peace is invaded by wild and dangerous interlopers, crows come bearing warnings, the government’s stability is undermined, and Casey needs to follow her nose to sort out the tangled threads and determine what is really behind the issues.
Is it power-hungry Senator Juniper, seeking to establish a base by cutting down support for Casey and her party? Is it the Wilds, urban strays with an entirely different mindset towards community and towards the humans who support and care for Casey and her kind? Is it the “fanamas” (wolves), who claim the status of the Original Canines and have nothing but contempt for the domesticated? Or could it even be the humans Casey has always loved and trusted?
The premise of the canine government is an interesting and well-developed. The author seamlessly integrates canine patterns of behavior, including “scentimas” (scent-based communications) and dominance duels, into a human-like government without stretching disbelief too far. The action is lively, when not stalled by political arguments, and moves from place to place quickly, and the characters – particularly Casey and Sasha, her Husky colleague and friend – are quite likable.
The realism of the politics, however, can be a flaw as well as an asset, as the plot tends to get bogged down in confusing political debate and footnotes concerning canine governmental issues and policies. Also, sometimes the politics are less coherent than they could be, and the reader is left wondering why different parties are taking stances that seem directly opposed to their names, or how the dogs expect to practically carry out their plans. The final twist ends the story with a resolution that is a bit too pat, given the political infighting that had been taking place just previously.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader