Book review: ‘Carmel Conundrum’

‘Carmel Conundrum’ book cover
P.I. Liz Adams has an able assistant in Duke, her Labrador retriever who can tell truth from lies, in this new entry in Stacy Wilder’s cozy mystery series.
By Sally Rosenthal

Carmel Conundrum by Stacy Wilder. Wild Hawk Press, 2022. Softcover, 226 pages, $14.95.

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I have long considered my dogs to be excellent judges of character. I imagine you have felt the same about your canine buddies. But as intuitive as they might be, your dogs and mine can’t come close to Duke, the Labrador retriever who yips, barks, and sniffs out the truth for private investigator Liz Adams in Stacy Wilder’s cozy mystery series.

In Carmel Conundrum, the follow-up to the series’ initial outing, Charleston Conundrum, Liz and Duke are off on a well-deserved vacation to scenic Carmel, California, after the death of a close friend. Planning to combine viewing land left to her by that friend with what just might turn out to become a romantic interlude with a mutual friend, Liz offers her investigative skills when her boyfriend’s tech security company’s computer system appears to have been hacked.

As Liz and Duke dig deeper, they find themselves in danger. Is their foe a disgruntled company employee or the menacing leader of a drug-dealing cult that has taken up residence on Liz’s land? All’s well that ends well, but there are plenty of accidents, red herrings, and even a kidnapping before Duke leads Liz to the culprit in this mystery that is filled with a cast of believable characters, plot twists, and blossoming romance.

So many cozy mystery series feature the obligatory canine or feline sidekick. Wilder, who bases Duke on her rescued Labrador retriever, does not employ Duke as just another amateur animal sleuth but presents him as an integral and much-loved member of the detective team. If you, as I do, enjoy well-crafted mysteries with a crime-sniffing canine, snap up both titles in the Liz Adams series while waiting for more of her adventures with Duke.

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