Title: The Dead Dog Day
Author: Jackie Kabler
Publisher: Accent Press
Publication date: 22 October 2015 (ePub) 11 February 2016 (paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
When your Monday morning begins with a dead dog and ends with a dead boss, you know it's going to be one of those days. And breakfast TV reporter Cora Baxter has already had the weekend from hell, after the man she'd planned a fabulous future with unceremoniously dumped her. Now Cora's much-hated boss has been murdered - the list of suspects isn't exactly short, but as the enquiry continues the trail leads frighteningly close to home. Why is Cora's rival, glamorous, bitchy newsreader Alice Lomas, so devastated by their boss's death? What dark secrets are Cora's camera crew hiding? And why has her now ex-boyfriend vanished? The race to stop the killer striking again is on...
First, a big thank you to Jackie Kabler and Accent Press for providing me with an advance copy of The Dead Dog Day in return for an honest review. Also, apologies to the author for the delay in posting the review.
Story follows Cora Baxter, a TV reporter for a popular breakfast programme. Kabler, herself a former GMTV reporter, gives us a great insight into the world of breakfast TV as we follow Cora and her camera crew around the country from one location to the next as they concentrate on regional news stories which include some very early starts and some unusual locations. They say to write about what you know and I think Kabler’s past experience has given her plenty of material to write about.
When we first meet Cora, the rug has just been pulled out from under her feet (metaphorically speaking) when her boyfriend of 2 years, Justin, dumps her unceremoniously by telephone 2 days before Christmas, ruining her plans for their happy future together. Things then just go from bad to worse when, after a particularly stressful day, her much-hated boss Jeanette Kendrick is found murdered at the TV studio, making for a very uncomfortable working environment.
As handsome DI Adam Bradberry is put in charge of the investigation he faces the very difficult task of working out who killed the boss - young trainee producer Christina Evans, Cora's missing boyfriend Justin, Jeanette's partner Clancy Carter, budding director Sam, newsreader Alice Lomas etc...? Jeanette, in the couple of pages where we meet her, is instantly such a deliciously unlikeable character, so demanding and critical, that the list of suspects just keeps growing and growing! The situation also leads Cora and her colleagues to understandably begin questioning which one of them might be guilty of such an awful crime!
Cora is a great main character. She’s smart, hard-working, career-minded and a great friend. In a world of celebrities and egos, Cora seems to be a genuinely nice person. If life throws a curve ball her way, she just adjusts her stance and carries on going. The supporting cast are a varied bunch and add great dimension to the story. I particularly liked the close and supportive relationship that Cora has built up with her camera crew, Rodney, Nathan & Scott. They are constantly shoved together in close quarters and for long hours, making for an efficient and well-working crew. There is a lot of banter flying around between them and that adds a great light-hearted element to the story. Kabler has also included some great characters that the reader will love to hate in the form of Jeanette and newsreader Alice Lomas, two women who appear to be as thoroughly unpleasant as each other.
Cora’s newly re-started love life is also a point of interest in the story. After a very funny and drunken first meeting with TV star Benjamin Boland, Cora finds herself being pursued for a date, something that she finds very flattering after her recent romantic disaster. For me, Cora seemed to jump in to this new relationship very quickly bearing in mind how recently her previous relationship had ended. However, I imagine that realistically when one long term relationship ends, a lot of peole will be overly keen to regain the companionship and security that comes with a relationship. The situation is, however, somewhat complicated by the immediate chemistry between her and DI Bradberry as he continues to investigate the murder.
I liked that the book was told from a dual point of view. The majority of the story is told through Cora’s eyes, however it will flit occasionally to the killer’s viewpoint and it is interesting to read how they were perceiving the events unfolding. Hearing from the killer helped to build a feeling of suspense as, by their presence in the story, the reader can tell that things have not yet reached a conclusion. I also liked the somewhat unique angle to the story in the fact that whilst being a murder mystery, the main character (Cora) does not get stuck in with some amateur sleuthing but is happy to let the police get on with their job.
I had my suspicions throughout as to who the killer might be, although I did change my mind on a few occasions. There are so many questions raised throughout the investigation – why is Alice so upset by their boss’ death? Where has Cora’s ex-boyfriend run off too? Why is Rodney being so secretive? How much did Sam want the director’s job? Who is sending Cora messages warning her she’s in danger? Will the killer get chance to strike again? The mystery is cleverly created by Kabler and the build-up to the reveal was well done, resulting in a satisfying ending to the story.
The Dead Dog Day is a perfectly balanced mix of crime novel and rom-com. The book is well-written and the writing style is engaging and fun. I found myself immediately caught up in the story. It contained a good mix of mystery, suspense, romance and humour. Overall, this was a hugely entertaining read.
This may be a debut novel, but it did not feel that way and I am now expecting many more good things from Kabler. The Dead Dog Day is a fantastic choice for those looking for a slightly lighter crime novel – there’s little in the way of gore or ickyiness (I don’t think that’s a real word!) but there is a good story there.
I understand that this book is intended to be the first of a trio and I sincerely hope that we will be reading more about Cora Baxter in the not-to-distant future.
About the Author
Jackie Kabler spent 20 years as a journalist, starting in newspapers and then moving into TV as a reporter and newsreader. She is most famous for her time on GMTV, where she covered major stories such as the Soham murders and the 2004 tsunami, and also worked for ITV news and BBC Midlands. Jackie now works for QVC and lives between London and Gloucestershire.