Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Top Dog? The Legend of Diamond Lil by Doreen Tully

I was missing scents, leaving the chickens vulnerable, and as tired as I had ever been.

Keeping the chickens safe was a job I wasn't going to be able to do on my own.

I needed a partner.

Someone quick. Someone smart. Someone I could trust.

Someone like Lil.

Retired search-and-rescue dog J. J. Tully has a new case, a wily 'possum who keeps penetrating his well-guarded perimeter and making her way to the chicken coop where Moosh and her chickens are roosting every night. Despite his best detecting skills, he finds he is being outsmarted by that mangy marsupial, and his self-esteem is taking a nose dive.

It doesn't help that all the chicks have gone ga-ga over the their neighbor Barb's new dog, Lillian, a glossy white Samoyed who affects a Georgia drawl and a magnolia manner that impresses the entire barnyard. Even J.J. Tully, veteran nose-for-hire, finds himself falling under her Southern spell despite himself.

But despite her shiny, talcum-powder-white coat, J. J. begins to suspect that there is something shady about this shaggy lady. For one thing, she never seems to go inside Barb's house, even pretending to prefer sleeping under the house. And then she seems strangely clueless about Barb's daughter Bobby, away at college since summer, and J.J.'s gumshoe nose smells an impostor when Lil casually refers to Bobby (real name Roberta) as he. J.J. realizes that in order to solve the 'possum caper he's going to have to sniff out who Lil really is.

In her second sequel to the well-review first book, The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J. J. Tully Mysteries), Doreen Cronin's latest entry has all the giggle potential of its predecessor. J. J. Tully is a worth successor to the notable Hank the Cowdog, just as self-important and yet unsure of his place as the protector of poultry, and in her spoof of the hard-boiled detective genre, the colorful characters Cronin creates--wise-cracking Moosh the hen and her cheeky chicks, Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie, house dog and part-time villain Vince-the-Funnel, presumed perpetrator Ida Rose the 'Possum, and the suspected impostor Diamond Lil--are classy supporting players.  The Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J. J. Tully Mysteries) (Balzer & Bray, 2012) is a perfect fit for the early-chapter-book reader who likes a potpourri of elements in their fiction.

As School Library Journal puts it, "“Children who like a little bit of everything mixed into their reading, particularly mystery, adventure, and animals, will enjoy this book.”

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