Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Six Ostriches - Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery #2


Six Ostriches is the second Dr. Bannerman veterinary mystery by Dr. Philipp Schott. Due out 23rd May 2023 from ECW Press, it's 256 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. 

This is a credible follow up to the first story, featuring an amateur sleuth who is also a veterinarian and somewhat neurodivergent (but high-functioning) protagonist alongside his trusty canine sidekick Pippin, a husky/lab/border collie mix with a gifted sense of smell and an unusually high degree of intelligence to go with it. Dr. Bannerman struck me as an odd guy, generally likeable but also stubborn and often pedantic. I appreciated the nerdy culture references which the author wrote into the story, and it's cool that his wife is a nerdy fibre artist and knitting designer.

The book is well plotted and moves along at a good clip; definitely action driven and engaging. Unusually in this case, the characterizations are above average and believably rendered. There were a few places in the book where the dialogue didn't ring true for me at all, but all in all, well written and enjoyably readable. The overarching mystery is heavily foreshadowed and not a surprise, but there were motivations and hidden aspects which definitely surprised me. The climax, denouement, and resolution had a bit too much deus-ex-machina to be entirely satisfying, but overall I enjoyed it very much. 

It's not really a cozy mystery at all and shares more in common with modern medical thrillers than "James Herriot". The author is clearly familiar with rural Manitoba and he does a great job describing the weather, the area, and the history of the place. There is some on-page violence as well as some mildly graphic descriptions of blood and exanguination, mutilation of livestock, and a couple of quite shocking decapitations. Language and dialogue are mostly PG rated shading toward the R-rated end of the spectrum. The author has not shied away from mentioning and exploring the themes of right-wing political culture and extremism. Also, there's explicit violence toward animals and very sensitive readers might want to check the discussion threads (spoiler: the dog doesn't die).

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 7 hours and 26 minutes and is capably narrated by Miles Meili. He has a rugged and rough-edged baritone which suits the dialogue very well. Sound and production quality are high throughout the recording. 

Four stars. Very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for Peter, Laura, and Pippin (&co). The author/publisher have included a sneak peek at the third book in the series, Eleven Huskies.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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