Monday, December 10, 2012

Guest author Carola Dunn on Doggin' the Canine Contingent in Mysteries

Today we welcome author Carola Dunn, who writes about one of my favorite subjects - dogs in novels. Thanks for being here, Carola - and Trillium, too!  ~ Sheila

"Book 'em, Doggo!"


(Sorry about that: I've just been staying with my son who's doing a Hawaii 5-0 retrospective...)

Dogs have always been part of my life, from Wendell, the German Shepherd who refused to let the District Nurse anywhere near my pram to my present companion, Trillian, a border collie/black Lab mix (best guess). So it's not surprising that I write dogs into many of my books. 

My mother's last dog was a West Highland Terrier, reincarnated as Teazle, Eleanor Trewynn's Westie in my Cornish mystery series. Teazle goes everywhere with Eleanor. In my new book, The Valley of the Shadow, she leads the way up the stairs in the police station, sufficiently familiar with the place to know exactly where to find Eleanor's police-detective niece. And at the end, she scurries down the cliffside steps pursued by a murderer.

In the first of the series, Manna from Hades, she drew Eleanor's attention to the concealed body in the stockroom, and in the second, A Colourful Death, she was swarmed by cops when she dashed across the road to pee on the only scrap of grass available.

Westies—three of them—also played a part in one of my Regencies, A Lord for Miss Larkin. More significant, though, was a Newfoundland, Midnight, who insisted on being abducted along with Alison Larkin and then foiled the dastardly kidnapper. An equally large, or larger, Pyrenean Mountain dog rescued the hero of Angel. Ragamuffin, an Irish setter, both helped and hindered the heroine in The Tudor Signet. The warmth of a devoted dog saved the life of a little runaway in The Improper Governess.

One of my editors at Kensington/Zebra asked me to write a novella about a kitten. My response: "Can't I do a puppy?" He said, "No, kittens sell." Nonetheless I managed to fit a puppy into the story ("Wooing Mariana" in the e-book anthology A Second Spring). Lyuba is the apparent villain but turns out to be the heroine of the story.

Though a dog caused a carriage accident in Lavender Lady, the only thoroughly objectionable dog character I've ever created was Mudge, the pug in Mayhem and Miranda. He played a positive part in the story, however, saving Miranda's elderly employer and bringing Miranda and the hero together at the end. He was responsible for introducing them to each other as well, when he ran away and Miranda, chasing him, fell over Peter's legs—Peter was spending the night under a bush at the time.

In my Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, it wasn't until the seventh, Styx and Stones, that a dog permanently entered the series, when Daisy's future stepdaughter adopted a farm puppy.

Nana (after the dog in Peter Pan) doesn't appear in all the books but she plays an important part in a couple. In Mistletoe and Murder, she finds, delivers, steals, runs away with, and reburies a clue. And in Black Ship, she discovers a dead body hidden in the garden. She starred on the cover of the book.

(A final thought: a K-9 unit would have come in very handy in many Hawaii 5-0 episodes...)
Carola Dunn is the author of 20 Daisy Dalrymple mysteries (England 1920s), 3 Cornish Mysteries (Cornwall, c. 1970), and 32 Regencies (all over the world, early 1800s). She was born and grew up in England and has lived in the US for more decades than she cares to count, presently in Oregon, where her dog, Trillian, walks her by the Willamette River daily (not including the past few weeks as during their last walk Carola carelessly managed to break four bones in her foot).



Final Day! But you still have time to Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs.

Buy Drop Dead on Recall or Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals today through this event and your purchase will support canine health research and independent business.
A big thank you to Kathleen Jewel, owner of Pomegranate Books, for handling the business end of this virtual book launch, and to Gayle Watkins and friends at Canine Health Events and C.A. Sharp at Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute, for the work you do.
Click here to

Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs





  1. Carola, nice post. It does make me want to find your Regencies. Westies and Irish setters have a special place in my heart, but I love them all. I'm glad you've included so many dogs in your stories. They're one of the highlights of life.

  2. Couldn't live without 'em. The Regencies are all available for Kindle/Nook and other ebook formats :-)