Playing Dead is the second Molly Madison cozy mystery by Peggy Rothschild. Released 7th Feb 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is an engaging cozy featuring a likable protagonist and lots (and lots) of dogs. There's a huge amount of info about dog agility and tracking sport which I found interesting. The author is either deeply familiar with the milieu or else has profoundly impressive research skills. (Reading the afterword and acknowledgements, it would seem the latter - quite impressive).
The plot threads are well engineered and controlled and the denouement and resolution are satisfying if fairly predictable. The author did a good job of fleshing out the secondary characters as well. They're three-dimensional and believable. One of the secondary but pivotal characters is a precocious 8 year old who was one of the stars of the book for me. Dog lovers will find a lot to enjoy here.
language is mild (a few "damns" and nothing worse), and there's no
explicit content, gore, or violence. There's a romance sub-thread central to the main character's development which was surprising, and fans of mystery who hate romantic drama in their reads should know that this is a significant part of the plot.
Four and a half stars. This is top shelf cozy mystery. Highly recommended.Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes