“Ill-Served”, the number seven in Susan J. Kroupa’s delightful series of Doodle mysteries, successor to “Bed-Bugged”, “Out-Sniffed”, “Dognabbed”, “Bad-Mouthed”, “Ruff-Housed”, and “Mis-Chipped”, is absolutely wonderful! It’s entertaining, thoughtful, informative, and a book you can’t put down whether you are eight years old or closer to eighty.
Doodle is a shrewd and compassionate Labradoodle, part Labrador retriever, part poodle. He works as a bedbug detective for his “boss” Josh who insists that Doodle is an employee and not a pet, but often lets himself be inveigled into showing Doodle the affection more consistent with a pet arrangement.
The person who has this influence on Josh is his eleven-year-old daughter Molly. For Molly, Doodle is a reliable friend. However, she is aware of the issues her father worries about, generally financial, and Doodle picks up on the emotional stress both of them experience.
In “Ill-Served”, Molly and her friends notice dangers presented by (fortunately) stupid but nonetheless dangerous criminals. These include perpetrators of scams with supposed therapy dogs and an older woman’s entitled adult son of who wants to steal his mother’s assets.
The clueless adults don’t recognize all the problems immediately, being preoccupied with their own challenges. Josh is organizing a move to a new house before his wedding. Cori, Josh’s first wife and Molly’s mother, has professional stress as a police officer and personal stress with the health problems of aging relatives.
And so, Molly and her friends have to set about stopping the criminals. They succeed by taking the initiative but then confiding in the adults who show themselves to be surprisingly competent when the kids give them the opportunity. It turns out that communication among the generations solves almost every problem.
Doodle, as usual, immediately recognizes everything that is going on and comments accordingly. He notes that human beings miss out on so much due to their inadequate sense of smell. According to Doodle’s assessment, dogs are also simply smarter than people. Unfortunately, he can’t communicate this knowledge directly to the human people who are his family. He can’t even give them tips about the homeless kitten they rescue.
Additional problems include Josh’s search for a house he can afford. Molly has to come to terms with changes in her life that she actually likes but which also stress her out, like her father’s marriage to Annie and moving to the neighborhood of her best friend Tanya. Molly, Josh, and Molly’s mother Cori also make every effort to care for their family relationships. Cori and Josh are long since divorced and have made their peace with each other. Josh has found love with Annie, a dog trainer whom he will marry. Josh, Cori, and Annie do their very best for Molly.
Susan J. Kroupa is a masterful writer. She not only creates a logical, believable, thrilling crime story. Without even noticing it consciously, readers gain valuable information about therapy dogs, stroke victims, and potential victims of elder abuse. Susan J. Kroupa is also at the cutting edge when it comes to current information about care of dogs.
So this book has everything for every reader. It is fun to read and gives readers of every age food for thought. Do yourself and every reader you know a favor and buy this book for yourself and others. It is almost too good to be true.
Then do yourself a favor and go back and buy, read, and enjoy the previous six books.