Title: The Dog Park Club
Author: Cynthia Robinson
Release Date: June 22, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Opera singer Max Bravo is concerned about his good friend Claudia. She and her husband are having problems, and Max worries about leaving Claudia alone. In an effort to get her to make friends in her neighborhood, Max encourages her to take her dog to the local dog park and socialize with the interesting people who hang out there. Max himself becomes friends with this colorful cast of characters. One day, Amy, a young, attractive member of the group with an overbearing husband, disappears, and the dog park club takes it upon themselves to figure out what happened to her.
First of all, a warning to dog lovers: this is NOT a cozy mystery about dogs. I know from the cover and description, it seems like the entire plot revolves around dogs, but it really doesn’t at all. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have a feeling that a lot of people who seek this book out will make that assumption, as I did. So consider yourself warned – this is not the book for you if you’re specifically looking for something about dogs.
The Dog Park Club was an interesting, if muddled book. The book isn’t really a mystery at all; instead, it’s about the eccentric people who meet at the dog park and the trouble they get into together. It’s entertaining, because there are definitely some great characters in this book. Claudia in particular was a favorite of mine – she was looking for love and comfort, especially after the trouble with her husband, and tried to find it in the most amusing of people.
However, it is not a typical, straightforward whodunit, which is what I was expecting. Yes, someone does disappear, but that isn’t the point of the book. As a result, I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I expected. I went into it expecting a cozy mystery that centered around dogs, only to find something much more complex than that. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I’d had a better idea of what to expect.
That being said, I did find The Dog Park Club amusing. Max Bravo is a great narrator, and the book is very funny. It makes me sad that my expectations clouded my experience of reading the novel and I had trouble appreciating it for what it was. If you’re looking for an amusing story with a crazy set of characters, definitely consider picking up this book, but I’d steer clear if you’re looking for a dog-based mystery.