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The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs    by Richard Yancey order for
Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs
by Richard Yancey
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

As cold and miserable weather begins closing in on Knoxville, Tennessee, former night watchman Theodore Ruzak is forced by state examiners to shut down his fledgling business, Highly Effective Detection.

The hapless Ruzak's repeated inability to pass the state licensing exam for private investigators means that the unsuccessful investigative consultant must send his secretary Felicia home, he must close his office, and he must find something else to occupy his time.

As if ordained by some manipulative fate, Ruzak finds the dead body of a neighborhood vagrant in a downtown alleyway, so - with no legitimate reason to hang out in his closed office, and because of a special personal connection with the brutally murdered vagrant - Ruzak finds himself drawn into a puzzling and dangerous mystery in which the sacred tetragrammaton (YHWH) has been viciously carved into the dead man's forehead.

When Ruzak tracks down a potential witness to the grotesque murder, the plot in The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs kicks into high gear and readers are treated to a fascinating mystery.

Taking center stage in the story, Ruzak - with the tireless assistance of Felicia and the amorous attentions of an eccentric attendant at the local humane society - finds himself being reluctantly and haltingly transformed from a cynical recluse to a compassionate, introspective, and emotionally engaged citizen of the world who often seems overwhelmed by existential and romantic crises.

Enriched by a deftly paced narrative style, accomplished author Richard Yancey's latest offering proves once again why this southern writer so thoroughly deserves his excellent reputation among critics and readers. The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs - full of ironic humor, compelling action, and quirky characters - is most highly recommended reading for fans of the mystery genre who enjoy their entertainment mixed with thought-provoking themes.

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