Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: A Pug's Tale

Summary: Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she's been able to bring along her pug, Max (without sneaking him in in her tote bag). The occasion is a party for an Animals in 19th-Century Art exhibit, but the evening ends badly when a small but important painting seems to be missing. The Met needs Hope's-and Max's-help. And Hope has to keep it all a secret from her beloved, Manhattan DA Ben Brown. -- Berkley could I resist A PUG'S TALE by Alison Pace given this cover? Too cute, right? And then I read the description of this novel and it sounded like it was part chick-lit, part mystery. That was pretty much the icing on the cake. A PUG'S TALE sounded downright adorable. And perfect for an afternoon at the pool!

A PUG'S TALE was a very cute book and it certainly lived up to my expectations. While there was a mystery aspect to this novel, it wasn't a traditional mystery book. It was more of a chick lit story with a mystery angle. I found myself liking the book more because of the main characters of Hope and her dog Max rather than the whodunit part of the story. I enjoyed that the novel was written in Hope's first person voice because she was just a sweet and very likable character (and also rather funny.) And I couldn't help but smile every time Hope mentioned her adoration of Max.

Hope is definitely one of the best things about this book -- I really liked her. Her boyfriend Ben is away trying to "save the world" while Hope is living in New York with his dog Max. She works as an art restorer at the Met; however, her life is turned upside down when she discovers that a famous painting is missing. Rather than involve the police, Hope and a few co-workers decide to try to figure out the crime by themselves. When Hope receives a series of clues, she attempts to track down the culprit by herself. Thankfully, between the clues, Hope's dreams, and Max's sixth sense, she eventually discovers the secret behind the art heist.

I think dog lovers are going to love Max and appreciate Hope's devotion to her dog. As someone who wouldn't classify herself as a dog lover, I still loved Max -- he sounded so darn cute. While this novel didn't have me running out to get a dog, I did think it was creative use of a character to use a dog as Hope's sidekick in an art heist investigation.

As far as the mystery aspect of the story goes, it was fairly predictable. However, I wasn't really expecting much more out of this type of book. (I don't mean that in a negative way -- just being honest about my expectations.) The crime wasn't very complex and there were a few twists, but I definitely wasn't surprised by the final outcome. But that's okay. I just read this book for fun and didn't even attempt to figure out the inner workings or the motive behind the art heist.

A PUG'S TALE is actually a sequel to PUG HILL, but don't let that stop you from picking it up. I haven't read PUG HILL, and I definitely thought A PUG'S TALE worked as a stand-alone. I'm sure there were a few references that might have meant more to me had I read the books in order, but I figure, "What I don't know won't hurt me." (I actually don't even think the first book was a mystery at all.)

There is a reading guide available for A PUG'S TALE, but if I'm being totally honest, it wouldn't be my first pick for either of my book clubs. That's not to say that the book wasn't enjoyable... because it was. It just wasn't quite as "literary" as my group tends to read. Having said that, A PUG'S TALE might be work if your group is looking for a lighter read especially during the busy summer months. There are some topics which do lend themselves to discussion though. For example, you might want to explore who you thought was the culprit, whether you were surprised by the ending, and what the motives were. In addition, Hope is a pretty interesting character. You could discuss her feeling towards her co-workers, her boyfriend and (my favorite) her pug.

I thought A PUG'S TALE was a fun story and I wouldn't hesitate to read another book by Ms. Pace. If you enjoy chick lit and/or cute mysteries, then I definitely recommend A PUG'S TALE.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds like the perfect book for a day on the beach for a dog lover like me!

Anonymous said...

Oh how fun! This sounds totally adorable. I'm usually a big dog fan (my "little guy" is a skinny 75lb pit bull mix!) but pugs are among my favorite tiny dogs.

Kaye said...

THis was an adorable read for me too. Yes, the mystery is not that difficult to figure out but I didn't care as I was just enjoying Hope and Max so much. Although this is a fun read, I can't quite see it being a book club selection.

Beth Hoffman said...

This sounds so cute!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You know I love books with dogs in them! I haven't heard of this series but it looks adorable!

Anonymous said...

Sounds too cute. And I know the perfect time for me to read it. Thanks for the recommendation.

Unknown said...

This one sounds light and fun and perfect for vacation!!

Beth S. said...

I loved this book too. Definitely my favorite Alison Pace book thus far.

Check out my interview with the author here:

Unknown said...

I just read about this book the other day and was hoping to see a review of it on a blog of someone's reading taste I trust! I adore pugs, they are soooo cute. I also like that this book is set in NYC and Hope works in my favorite great that Hope can bring Max to work one day! And her boyfriend is a Manhattan DA, fantastic!

I enjoyed your review and am so glad you liked this book! It is certainly one I want to read!