TAIL-WAGGING PRAISE FOR THE BARKING DETECTIVE MYSTERIES
THE BIG CHIHUAHUA
“This series is hilarious! The antics of Geri and her talking dog make the reader laugh out loud. An interesting cast of characters, an enjoyable read.”
RT Book Reviews
“Pepe and Geri make a great crime-solving team. Guaranteed: lots of smiles.”
Hudson Valley News
“Hollywood is the stage for this enjoyable caper starring amateur PI Geri Sullivan and her talking Chihuahua/partner, Pepe. The characters are comical, especially Pepe, who will have you laughing out loud. A great read.”
RT Book Reviews
“Light as a feather and a whole lot of fun.”
“Hop on board the TV-studio tour bus for this light cozy.”
“An adult mystery with young adult appeal . . . The second in Curtis's fun new series featuring Geri and Pepe is tailor-made for anyone who can't get enough dog mysteries and those readers who never miss an episode of
Dancing with the Stars
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA
“Three woofs and a big bow-wow for
Dial C for Chihuahua
. Pepe is one cool sleuthâjust don't call him a dog! I really loved the book.”
, author of the Lucy Stone mysteries
“Readers will sit up and beg for more.”
Sushi the Shih Tzu
, canine star of the
Trash 'n' Treasures
mysteries by Barbara Allan
“Writing duo Curtis has created a humorous but deadly serious mystery. Pepe is a delight and more intelligent than most humans in the book. An ex-husband and current love interest keep Geri's life hopping. Crafty plotting will keep you engrossed until the end and have you eagerly awaiting the next book.”
RT Book Reviews
, 4 stars
“Every dog has its day and there'll be plenty of days for Geri Sullivan and Pepe in this fun twist on the typical PI partnership.”
, author of
Did Not Finish
“Waverly Curtis has created a delightful cast of human and canine characters in
Dial C for Chihuahua
. Pepe never loses his essential dogginess, even as he amazes gutsy Geri Sullivan, his partner in crime detection, with his past exploits and keen nose for detail. I look forward to Pepe's next adventure!”
, author of the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries
“Move over, Scooby-Doo, there's a new dog in town!
Dial C for Chihuahua
is a fun and breezy read, with polished writing and charming characters, both human and canine. If you like a little Chihuahua with your mystery, former purse-dog Pepe is a perfect fit!”
, author of the Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mysteries
The veterinarian was a short man shaped like an egg, with a rounded torso that narrowed at either end to a bald head on top and tiny feet at the other. He wore rimless glasses and a white lab coat.
“Hello, I'm Norman Dodd,” he said, holding out his hand. It was small and clammy. Nonetheless, I clung to it as he pumped mine up and down. I had never consulted a vet before about my Chihuahua, Pepe, but now I was really worried.
Pepe was one of a group of Chihuahuas who had been flown up to Seattle from LA, where they were being abandoned in record numbers. I had adopted him six months earlier and he had become my best friend and partner in my work as a private detective.
“Why are you here today?” Dr. Dodd asked, consulting the clipboard that the receptionist had placed on the counter in the exam room at the Lake Union Animal Clinic. Pepe sat on the metal table, his long ears perked forward, his dark eyes fixed on me. I wished I could tell what he was thinking. That was the problem.
“My dog stopped talking to me,” I said. “About four days ago.”
The vet had been running his pudgy fingers along the sides of Pepe's white flanks.
“What do you mean?” he asked. “He used to bark a lot, and now he's stopped?” He chuckled. “Some Chihuahua owners would celebrate!”
“No, it's not that,” I said.
“Then what do you mean?”
“I mean he used to talk to me, but a few days ago he mysteriously stopped talking.”
The vet's eyes narrowed. “Define talking!”
“He spoke,” I said. “Words strung together into complete sentences. A bit of Spanish. Mostly English.”
Pepe sat on the table, smiling up at me with those big dark eyes.
“What's wrong with you?” I asked, addressing him as I had many times during the last four days. “Why don't you speak?”
Dr. Dodd shook his head. “I think you've come to the wrong place, miss,” he said. “You don't need a vet. You need a shrink.”
I didn't tell him I had already consulted with my shrink. Susanna already knows about my talking dog, so when I told her he had stopped talking, she congratulated me. “So what do you think caused you to own your thoughts and feelings instead of projecting them onto your dog?” she asked with a happy smile.
“You don't understand,” I said. “He was really helping me. I don't think I could have solved any of those cases without him.” Pepe and I had been responsible for catching several murderers, kidnappers, and bad dogs while working for the private investigation agency run by Jimmy Gerrard.
“Geri, it has always puzzled me that you want to give credit to your dog. Why not acknowledge and celebrate your own accomplishments?”
“But that's wrong!” I said. Meanwhile, Pepe just sat there, on top of one of the many pillows in Susanna's office, seeming quite pleased with himself without saying a word.
“What's wrong with you?” I turned to him. “You always want to take credit for everything we do.” My dog is a bit of an attention hound.
“Geri,” said Susanna, “if I didn't think this was just a metaphor, I'd be very concerned about your mental state. If you persist in this delusion, I think you might consider in-patient treatment.”
I saw Pepe flinch at that. Thank God, he was still registering his reactions, if not actually expressing his opinion. And like many dog owners, I could read my dog fairly accurately. “You don't want that,” I said to him. “You don't want me to go away. They won't let you come with me.”
“Do you want me to check into some possibilities for you?” said Susanna. “Or perhaps I should refer you to a psychiatrist?” Susanna had been licensed as a counselor in the state of Washington after she earned her MA, but she can't prescribe medication. It takes someone with an MD to diagnose and write prescriptions.
“I don't need a psychiatrist,” I said. “My dog does!” I glared at Pepe. He looked a little worried. One ear quirked forward.
“Do you have referrals to dog shrinks?” I asked a little loudly and defiantly, directing the words at Pepe, not at Susanna.
“I actually know several,” said Susanna. “Dr. Mallard was very helpful when my cat started hiding under the furniture. He gave her some anti-anxiety medication and that cleared up her symptoms.” She got up, went over to her desk and flipped through her Rolodex. She picked out a card and handed it to me.
“Thanks,” I said, getting up, “I think I will look into that.” I could tell by Pepe's expression that he was upset. Good! I was upset too. Maybe it would upset him enough so he would start talking.
I couldn't understand why he had stopped.
The irony is that I had spent the past six months trying to convince people, including my boss, Jimmy Gerrard, and my boyfriend, Felix Navarro, that my dog talked. They were just starting to entertain that possibility when he stopped. Now what? They would think I was crazy. Apparently everyone did.
The vet was talking again. “I'll check his vocal cords. See if there's anything causing problems in his throat. Perhaps he ate something . . .” He pried open Pepe's jaws and peered inside, waving around a little flashlight. “Nope. That all looks normal.” He patted Pepe on the head. “I can't see anything that would cause him to stop barking. Of course, if you want, we can take some blood and do some tests . . .”
I saw the fright in Pepe's eyes, but I nodded. “Yes, I think that's a good idea!” If he wasn't going to tell me what was going on, I would do everything in my power to figure it out. But mostly I was terribly hurt. I don't know if this has ever happened to you: your best friend suddenly stops speaking to you, won't return your calls, won't answer your questions about what's going on.
It had happened to me just a few weeks earlier and it was still painful. I had been working with Brad for more than five years, ever since we both graduated from interior design school. He opened a small shop where he refinished furniture he picked up at auction sales and then sold it to his clients. He let me use the back of the shop for my own thrift store finds and loaned me pieces I needed for my short-lived career as a stager.
Then suddenly, I couldn't get in contact with him. When I went by the shop, it was closed. When I called him, my calls went straight to voice mail. I was desperately worried about him and also confused. Had I done something wrong? I kept going back over the last conversation I had with him. We had been in the back of the shop surrounded by pieces of furniture in various stages of refurbishing. A stuffed owl looked over the scene from a perch on a grandfather clock. The skeletal remains of a Victorian sofa occupied one corner. A cracked blue-and-white Chinese vase sat on top of a mahogany drop-leaf table. Brad was at his sewing machine, stitching pink piping around an olive drab velvet pillow. It seemed like an ordinary conversation. We discussed whether or not he should agree to the color scheme his client Mrs. Fairchild demanded for her kitchen. Mrs. F wanted mint green and Brad recommended lemon yellow.
“Yellow can be such a harsh color to live with,” I had said. And that was the last thing I remembered from that day. Surely my opinion about paint colors had not been so outrageous as to cause the rift in our friendship.
I came back to the present. Dr. Dodd was staring at me, waiting for my answer.
“Yes, let's go ahead and get some blood work!” I said.
Pepe just stared at me with his big eyes. He wasn't talking but his message was clear: “Please don't do this to me!” But I was desperate. I needed to know what was going on. If anything was going to get him to talk it would be getting poked with a needle. He hates it. He began to tremble but still he didn't speak. When the vet sunk the needle into his little flank, he merely squeaked.
“We'll call you if anything unusual shows up in the results,” the vet said.
We left the vet's office and went out into a typical September day in Seattle. The sky was grey and the air was full of moisture. Some might call it rain but it's more like a heavy mist. I had one more place to go. Since Pepe wasn't talking to me, I thought I would go visit my other silent partner, Brad, and see if I could get him to talk to me.
The Animal Clinic is on Eastlake Boulevard, just a few blocks from my condo. And Brad's shop is also on Eastlake, in the other direction down near the University Bridge. The drawbridge spans the man-made canal that connects Lake Washington to the east with Lake Union. It is Seattle's most urban lake, surrounded by houseboats and restaurants.
Pepe trotted ahead of me. He doesn't like rain, but he also refuses to wear the cute raincoat I bought for him. So he was just wearing his little turquoise harness as we headed down the street. His little white tail wagged from side to side, curved over his back like a comma. He seemed like just a happy little normal Chihuahua. If a Chihuahua could ever be normal. Maybe I would have to get used to the fact that my dog was no longer extraordinary. Maybe that was what was truly bothering me. It was either that or the distinct possibility that I was crazy.
We were still a block from the shop when I began to realize something was wrong. There was a piece of paper pasted to the front door. And as we got closer, I could see that it was a 3 D
notice. Not the sort of thing you want prospective customers to see as they go driving by.
Brad usually has a striking tableau in the window designed to catch the eye of passers by: maybe a chair covered in leopard print next to a red ceramic vase full of pampas grass on top of a black lacquered table edged with gold. Or a Victorian sofa upholstered in buttercup yellow underneath a chandelier made out of orange pill bottles. But it looked like he had been interrupted in the middle of changing the display. A purple armchair sat beneath a bare light bulb with a crate beside it. It wasn't even industrial chic. Just sad.
I ripped the paper off the door. Then tried my key in the lock, but it wouldn't turn. So I cupped my hands and peered through the window.
“What happened to Brad?” I asked Pepe, but he didn't answer me. He just lifted his leg and peed on the tire of a white van parked in front of the building.
The telephone was ringing as we walked in through the front door of my condo. For a moment, I thought it might be Brad, calling to tell me what was going on. But that would be crazy, right?
I looked at the caller ID and it wasn't a number I recognized. The cryptic ID said “Forest Glen Clinic.” I grabbed it up and said, “Hello?”
“Is that you, Geri?” said the female voice on the other end of the line. She sounded familiar.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“You've got to help me!” said the woman on the other end. Her voice was rising in pitch and intensity. “Someone's trying to kill me!”
And then there was a brief scuffle on the other end and I heard the dial tone.
“That's weird,” I said to Pepe as he poked his head out from the kitchen door, clearly curious about what I was doing. “I think that was my sister.”